In the end there was no final day drama, no slip ups, no excessive nail biting, with the exception of a nervy opening quarter of an hour, there really was nothing to worry about in the end.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous before kick-off, but then most Saints fans probably were, the thought of slipping to third on the final day, after being in the top two all season was not a pleasant thought. This day had the potential to turn into a disaster had the unthinkable happened, yet there were early nerves from a group of players who knew that they were 90 minutes away from either fame or infamy.
There were no signs that this was going to be a comfortable home victory in the early exchanges as Coventry acquitted themselves well in the first 15 minutes or so. Then came the early breakthrough that we craved, as centre-back Jose Fonte’s surging Hansen-esque run from deep, helped to set up the opening goal that was cunningly deflected by Billy Sharp, from Lallana’s low shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Jose Fonte then got himself on the score sheet only minutes later with a diving header, and the nerves were all but gone now as the collective sighs of relief by the 32,000 Saints fans present, was probably strong enough to blow the planes passing low over St. Marys slightly off course!
Further goals in the second-half by first, Jos Hooiveld, and then Adam Lallana sparked the biggest celebration the city has seen since at least the FA Cup semi-final win over Watford in 2003. As the players and officials ran for the sanctuary of the changing-rooms at the final whistle, the crowd ran on to the pitch to celebrate what most fans would have thought to have been unthinkable at the start of the season, back-to-back promotions.
Most of us and that includes myself, would have been happy, and were probably expecting, a season of consolidation and mid-table mediocrity after gaining promotion from League 1 the previous season. Yet like Norwich before them, the Saints got off to a fantastic start and despite the odd dip in form, they completed a remarkable journey from Premier League, to League 1, and back again, in 7 years.
After years of suffering at the hands of men who could not run a chimps tea party, let alone a football club the size of Southampton, the long suffering Saints fans have at last something to smile about. The dark clouds have blown away from St. Marys and now there is a bright new horizon in front of us, there is also going to be a lot of hard work to do over the close season, in order to establish the club as a permanent Premier League side once again.
The last thing we want is to be one of the many yo-yo clubs that are constantly up and down, clubs like Wolves, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, and Reading. We need to take our time and not make hasty decisions in the transfer market, as our new found status will inevitably bring us to the attention to every mercenary footballer and their agents, who are in search of one big last pay day.
The team spirit we have at the club is fantastic and reminds me of the spirit that we had when fighting all those final day relegation battles in the nineties, something we lacked when dropping out of the Premier League in 2005.
Whatever happens over the coming summer months, it is in all likelihood going to be one of the most fascinating close seasons in the clubs history. From a fans perspective, it is also going to feel like one of the longest, Euro 2012 and the Olympics? Pah! We can’t wait for August!