View from the Kingsland: Ruled by hope or fear?

View from the Kingsland: Ruled by hope or fear?

Saints fan column by Nick Mabey.


I’ve been wanting to write this for a while, but the games have come so thick and fast that it is been hard to squeeze it in. And Saints’ fortunes have remained tantalisingly unknown throughout. Every match now means something and yet afterwards our future is no clearer than it was five games ago. Supporting Southampton has always been hard work and right now every moment seems heightened and full of meaning.

There is so much debate about what will happen to my beloved team this season, and what it will mean for next. I’ve noticed that there are two prevailing fan mindsets that power the conversations. Broadly, are you ruled by hope or fear? Before laying this out I should chuck in a giant caveat. I’m describing two extreme mindsets, when in reality most of us are not wired in such a binary way. We will be somewhere in between, and prone to veering wildly from one extreme to the other. But underneath I do think we have psychological wiring which is broadly either ‘glass half full’ or ‘glass half empty’.

Take our recent win over Watford. In many ways it was a microcosm of our season. After favourable results from the other promotion candidates, hope prevailed as we built a two-goal lead and looked on course for a thrashing. Fear slowly seeped into the stadium as we eased off and squandered our lead. Then, in the 98th minute hope was reignited in the most dramatic fashion, causing an outpouring of joy, the like of which I haven’t felt in the stadium for quite a few years. Many had left in misery by then (presumably those ruled by fear unable to endure any more) but those who witnessed our last-minute winner bathed in the euphoria of reignited hope.

So, what might mindsets of hope and fear look like in relation to the near future?


Ruled by Hope

Champions – it’s mathematically unlikely and still out of our hands but (and it’s a big but) it could happen.  Imagine the wave of positivity if we were to complete a charge to the very top. It would rank alongside one of the greatest experiences I’ve had of being a fan.

Automatic promotion – also unlikely but we have momentum and so why not. It would be a brilliant end to the season and set us up well for a return to the Premier League.

Play-off winners – our place in the play-offs is already confirmed, so we can get to experience the thrill of knockout football and the complete euphoria of seeing Saints lift a trophy at Wembley.

Play-off losers – we are a young team, and the experience will be strengthening in the end. And we will get to play another season in the Championship, with more games, more wins, less hype and no VAR. 

Next season – Whatever happens next season we will be better for this experience and it will be a good one. Our younger players will have grown enormously and we can look forward to exciting times.  And we will get to play Pompey.


Ruled by Fear

Champions – Let’s face it, this is not going to happen. If by some fluke it did, it will be because Leeds, Ipswich and particularly Leicester all choked during the last lap of the track.

Automatic promotion – As with being champions, this can only happen by default, where others contrive to mess up and we squeak in through the back door.

Play-off winners – the play-offs are a lottery and so if we prevail it will be because we got lucky and bought a winning ticket. Not being automatically promoted is a sign we are not good enough and our Wembley day out, of course a great experience, will be the end of the good times.

Play-off losers – a dark cloud will descend over the club like it did last time we lost in the Championship play-offs.  We’ve been here before and it’s horrible. 

Next season – staying in the Championship means we will lose all our best players. Depleted by lack of revenue, we are destined, at best, for a long spell in the division like Stoke. We could easily struggle to stay up next year and disappear. And we will have to play Pompey.


We’ll only ever be able to tell how this plays out through the rear-view mirror.  But as fans we are wired to live in the near future, where things are either going to be great or a disaster. What is your mindset? Regular readers will know I am more ruled by hope than fear. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer. In many ways it would be easier and a lot less painful to give up and imagine the worst – it’s the hope that kills you right? But where’s the fun in that? 

We March On.


  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: