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News: Thoughts on Saints


By Mobbs
February 3 2017

Earlier this week, regular COYSDC contributor, Mobbs, shared his thoughts on the current state of Northampton Saints in a measured but succinct message-board post. As is the custom on COYSDC, such posts are worthy of a wider audience (spread worldwide via our NewsNow link) so it is reproduced below as a formal article...

 

 

 

 

THOUGHTS ON NORTHAMPTON SAINTS

 

by MOBBS

 

Fact is that for two years Saints have been slowly but surely falling off the pace, a fact initially masked by finishing top of the regular season the campaign before last. Since our appearance in the European Final down in Cardiff, we have reguarly failed to do well in Europe largely due to heroic away victories being unable to compensate for some abject performances on our own turf. By his own admission our DOR has accepted the fact that fhe coaches may have perhaps been too loyal to certain players and that our recruitement has not been as good as it perhaps should have even allowing for any financial limitations.

Not so long ago, Saints pack was much feared and our set piece exceptional. Our half back pairing was steady rather than spectacular whilst our backs could on occasion be seen to be on fire and scoring tries for fun. We have two world class players in North and Picamoles alongside solid internationals in Wood, Harrison, Hartley and Lawes. Saints have new talent in Groom, Mallinder, Estelles and Ludlam and I do not forget for one moment the steadfast service of Alex Waller, Dickinson and the ever reliable Day.

So why are Saints at best treading water ?

No team can be full of stars. The salary cap does work to some extent despite what appear to be certain flagrant breaches hidden under the collective carpet to avoid scandal. Where Saints seem to have come up short is not reacting to the fact that too many players, parrticuarly amongst the backs, are coming to the end of their top level careers at the same time. Meanwhile, younger players appear to sense that their opportunities will be so limited that a change of club is required; one wonders how many more will be following Ethan Waller through the exit door come the end of the season.

We all hear rumours about what is going on within the club, some may be accurate some total tosh. The longer our malaise continues the more we will hear about discontent in the dressing room, stale coaching, personality conflicts etc etc.If our forwards coach is the dominant personality, bow is it that Alex Waller has not kicked on to full honours, why do Brookes and Hill appear to be going backwards, why is Beef leaving ? How can it be that having disposed of Alex King in such a clumsy manner a replacement backs coach seems nowhere nearer to being announced ?

In professional sport, coaches come and go, often far too quickly. That being said, it seems quite plausible that coaches like players become stale and in need of new challenges. Looking at the other game, for every Ferguson and Wenger, there are dozens who come and go; truly successful managers who survive long term have a hablt of changing their back room staff.

Most of us know and accept that the playing field is not level if it ever was in the first place. Yesterday I watched two of the biggest clubs in England fight out a fairly turgid game with largely second string players who collectively produced very little quality, the difference being that one team wanted to win a little more than the other. Both Leicester and Saints are well supported and well run clubs but both have lost their way to the dismay of their supporter base. Chatting to some Tigers fans on the terrace their seemed to be a 50/50 split between those who were happy to see Cockers dismissed and those who believed the wrong man had left the club. At least we are not alone in out misery !

It seems to me that the Saints lack real leadership throughout the club at the moment. There is no dynamism from the Boardroom, no apparent passion from the senior coaches and insufficient leadership on the field of play. Remember that Eddie Jones cites a lack of leadership amongst his England squad recalling the plethora of dominant characters in the 2003 winning side. I suppose it all comes down in my mind to the notion that someone needs to get a grip of Northampton Saints and give the club an enormous kick up the backside and even that will not change anything much in the short term. I will leave it others to argue over sacking the board, the coaches or the players but until all concerned acknowledge the problem there cannot be found a genuine solution.


 

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ComeOnYouSaints.com
News: Thoughts on Saints
ComeOnYouSaints.com (IP Logged)
03/02/2017 15:48
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
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Christoff
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
smitferbrainz (IP Logged)
03/02/2017 16:13
Excellent summary in my opinion. If the problem had just crept up on us then fair play but these problems have been glaringly obvious for two seasons and it seems little has or is being done. I'll leave it there because I don't want to get moaned at again by a particular individual who posts on here. Brave that such an article should appear.....such heresy.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:02:03:16:21:47 by smitferbrainz.

 
Maverick1
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
Phil. (IP Logged)
03/02/2017 16:22
Why "brave", smitfer?

Whilst there has been a lot of complete bollards written by some on here in recent weeks, Mobbs' thoughts are reasoned, well-argued, not just the usual (sigh!) knee-jerk cobblers.

The Eds just thought his thoughts deserved a wider audience (via our NewsNow link)...

 
Gwendoline
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
Gwendoline (IP Logged)
03/02/2017 16:35
Thank You for that. If I might offer a thought or two. Eddie Jones comment on leadership is very telling. He is winning with broadly the same players as Lancaster had. Leadership and culture are terribly important.

We live in a changing world. Look at Wasps. Those of us who used to watch them at the tiny Wycombe wanderers ground now see a different club. Or Saracens - used to be in that horrid Watford Ground-now look at them . Potential kings of Europe. Why aren't we there ?

And here I find myself in a contradictory position. Money clearly really matters. We must be able to recruit and retain quality players. Its not enough to recruit good players we have to be able to recruit the best. But -and this is the contradictory bit- I have long felt that the supporters at saints have been squeezed financially for year after year- and have wondered if this is indicative of the clubs priority- money mattering more than results.

Some might say it isn't possible to run a winning rugby club in a stand the Size of Franklins Gardens. But size isn't doing Tigers much good.

What would I do if I were Chairman ? I would make sure that the reward structures in the club were aligned to our objectives. In other words I would make sure that all the senior chaps' rewards were dependant upon results- not just the players and coaches. And the other thing I would do is I would employ someone independent and totally trustworthy to interview all the top players and the coaches and senior non coaching staff and some representative supporters on a one to one basis so they could tell him what they really thought about the club and how things were. And then that trusted confidante could report to the Chairman (without attributing any comments to anyone) so at least the Chairman truly knew the situation. Firms that are brave enough do this often find out uncomfortable truths. But at least it enables appropriate changes to be made.

 
Christoff
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
smitferbrainz (IP Logged)
03/02/2017 17:22
Quote:
Phil.
Why "brave", smitfer?
Whilst there has been a lot of complete bollards written by some on here in recent weeks, Mobbs' thoughts are reasoned, well-argued, not just the usual (sigh!) knee-jerk cobblers.

The Eds just thought his thoughts deserved a wider audience (via our NewsNow link)...

I totally agree Phil. It's just that some on here do tend to "go off on one" on their keyboards if anyone has the slightest dig at management, board or coaches. The article is absolutely spot on to my mind.

 
snuffy
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
snuffy (IP Logged)
03/02/2017 22:24
100% agree, a spot on assessment of the demise of the club.

Ultimately, the board, coaches and players are all responsible, but for me it starts with our Chairman, and CEO, who are not up to the job.

My question is, who are they accountable to?

It should be us the supporters, who they are letting down. I wonder if they will fall on their swords come the end of the season?!!!

 
MESSAGES->author
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
St Francis (IP Logged)
04/02/2017 06:01
Good article, thanks...

The point made by both Mobbs and Gwendoline about leadership is a key one for me. We seem to have an awful lot of management in our modern world, a lot of risk averse people at the top... but not many leaders. Not many who have the courage of their convictions to stick their necks out and go for it.

Jim was a leader 10 years ago. In my mind he can be again but I'm probably in a minority there...

 
northampton_lad
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
northampton_lad (IP Logged)
04/02/2017 06:47
Agree with most of what has been said. However I do wonder how much of our problems come down to money, there is no level playing field in the premiership and perhaps we cannot afford anyone of better quality to replace our current squad and coaches.

 
Christoff
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
smitferbrainz (IP Logged)
04/02/2017 08:37
Might some of it be down to that, normally half empty new stand? Like a ball and chain around the club's ankle? Playing wise the decline and the stand appear fairly close together. Maybe that's why we aren't what we were before it was completed. Maybe that's why we don't have the money to compete. It wouldn't bother me if it was full all the time but sometimes seeing such large gaps is almost embarrassing.

 
tboullem
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
Mobbs (IP Logged)
04/02/2017 09:15
We sit in the Barwell. Great view but so few season ticket holders in there results in great swathes of empty seats along with corporate guests who spend most of the games wandering around aimlessly to and from the bar. Not a great atmosphere......looking at a return to the Tetleys as not old enough for Church's !

 
Christoff
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
smitferbrainz (IP Logged)
04/02/2017 10:50
Quote:
Mobbs
We sit in the Barwell. Great view but so few season ticket holders in there results in great swathes of empty seats along with corporate guests who spend most of the games wandering around aimlessly to and from the bar. Not a great atmosphere......looking at a return to the Tetleys as not old enough for Church's !

I thought your article was spot on Mobbs, do you think there may be a connection between that stand and the decline? Funny that we identified the need for a new stand in order to gain the necessary 15k capacity for European knock out games. Have we hosted a European knock out game, not a group game, since the new stand was completed? Dunno but it seems that we aren't as good as we were since the Sturtridge went.

 
tboullem
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
Mobbs (IP Logged)
04/02/2017 13:05
There certainly has been a lack of real atmosphere in the Gardens since the Barwell stand was opened but maybe that problem actually goes back a little further to that game when we beat Tigers just before Christmas a couple of years ago.

I know we get the odd chorus of 'Wendy' which gets the juices going but really, as a club ( and I mean ALL of us ) we do not help ourselves.

When my family and I stood in C block we used to get in position a long time before kick-off, enjoyed some banter with familiar faces, watched the warm up and generally got in tune with proceedings to come. Now, like 90% of the crowd, we have a seat and do not have to be in position, should we so choose, until just before kick-off. We can go the the bar or the village of course but we do not feel part of the vibe prior to the whistle.

Last week at Leicester, the Tiggers actually played some decent music over the PA in the hour before kick-off and then of course they get the crowd going with 'Smoke on the Water'. Our policy seems to change year on year with nothing to get those juices going as 'Conquest of Paradise' used to do. The team virtually wander out onto the pitch rather than run out looking fired up and ready to do battle.

A team that is struggling or playing turgid rugby is not going to fire up the crowd and a silent crowd is not going to fire up the team so we are caught in a vicious circle. Some clubs of course, not to mention England, use some remarkably tacky gimmicks or excruciating 'announcers' to try and motivate the crowd. Hopefully we can keep Geoff Allen at his post a little longer for his gentle wit ; sorry Chris, but its just not the same when you step up to the plate !

To me as a lifelong supporter of Northampton Rugby Football Club, I think that all of us have a role to play in getting a buzz back into the Gardens. If the SSLG ever meets again, perhaps we could revisit the gathering of fans opinions to get us back on the right track.

Oh, and another thing......sitting in the Barwell for yet another friday night game, it is very noticeable that we are sitting under bright lighting throughout and its rather like going to the cinema and watching the movie with all the lights on. Notwithstanding the wonderful concept of '..elf and safety..' cannot the lights be dimmed a little ? The South Stand looks about the same but it appears far less bright in the Tetleys and Church's stands.

Mobbs



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2017:02:04:13:40:02 by Mobbs.

 
nottsaint
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
nottsaint (IP Logged)
05/02/2017 09:34
I think it's ludicrous to suggest that the new stand is the cause of our problems...

We were selling out virtually every game, playing well, scoring tries, the complaints of the day were, JM wasn't good enough to get us over the final hurdle, we would never win anything with SM at 10.

We were making he knockout rounds of the then HC, and having to play away at MK. We did need a new stand, and plenty of people thought we weren't adding enough capacity, but the boards opinion was they wanted to add more capacity but not risk playing in front of a half empty stadium.

The barwell stand isn't the cause of the lack of atmosphere, or the drop off in performance, it's the fact that the loyal fans have watched little to cheer about for the last two years.
Loyal season ticket holders and fans are dragging themselves to games not really expecting to enjoy them that much but almost to endure them, and the fact that we aren't playing well and are loosing means we arnt selling as many tickets, and more season ticket holders arnt showing up when they have something else on that clashes with a game.

The root of our problems isn't simple, it's a multi faceted issue. But the symptom is obvious.
Right now we arnt playing great rugby, and haven't been for some time.

Fix that, and the gardens, and the barwell stand will be full, and loud.

 
Christoff
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
smitferbrainz (IP Logged)
05/02/2017 15:06
Quote:
nottsaint
I think it's ludicrous to suggest that the new stand is the cause of our problems...
We were selling out virtually every game, playing well, scoring tries, the complaints of the day were, JM wasn't good enough to get us over the final hurdle, we would never win anything with SM at 10.

We were making he knockout rounds of the then HC, and having to play away at MK. We did need a new stand, and plenty of people thought we weren't adding enough capacity, but the boards opinion was they wanted to add more capacity but not risk playing in front of a half empty stadium.

The barwell stand isn't the cause of the lack of atmosphere, or the drop off in performance, it's the fact that the loyal fans have watched little to cheer about for the last two years.
Loyal season ticket holders and fans are dragging themselves to games not really expecting to enjoy them that much but almost to endure them, and the fact that we aren't playing well and are loosing means we arnt selling as many tickets, and more season ticket holders arnt showing up when they have something else on that clashes with a game.


The root of our problems isn't simple, it's a multi faceted issue. But the symptom is obvious.
Right now we arnt playing great rugby, and haven't been for some time.

Fix that, and the gardens, and the barwell stand will be full, and loud.

It's not ludicrous, it's opinion and a discussion point. Some of the reasons cited for problems at the moment are around finances and a lack of investment in the playing side. Is it possible that there is a lack of investment? If the answer to that may be yes then it's also possible that the financial pressure of repayments may be affecting investment in players. Do you know Nottsaint? No, so not ludicrous at all, a possibility.

 
tedge
Re: News: Thoughts on Saints
tedge (IP Logged)
06/02/2017 09:26
Agree it's not a ludicrous suggestion but just an opinion.However I think, like Nottsaint that if Saints were winning and playing attractive rugby the stadium would start to sell out again and a full stadium would generate the atmosphere that's sometimes missing

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