Off the mark!
There was a day when pre-season for Saints meant pictures of players in a dusty old gym with a medicine ball in the local paper and defeats to Exeter City, but with the new Southampton comes a new attitude throughout the club.
Firstly, the squad are currently training in Spain on the first leg of a European tour that will see them play the likes of Schalke, Beskitas and Celta Vigo, before ending with Real Sociedad at St. Mary's. Not only that though, the access for the fans is at a new level. Now, don't get me wrong; in this day of internet, social media and instant updates every club is keeping in touch with their fans like never before, but the media team at Saints really are taking it to another level.
Daily updates have come from Spain in the form of huge photo galleries of the players partaking in all sorts of activities, constant Twitter updates on the days training routines and a continuation of the ground breaking 'behind the scenes' videos that they started towards the end of last season. The #preseasonuncovered hashtag is full of fantastic content and that is important for a number of reasons. This is mainly because the summer is a frustrating time for football fans who are bored and in need of any sort of hit of action from their club, but also because at a time when the club have been criticised for not respecting the wishes of the fans with the kit etc., it shows how much they do care about us. The level of content coming from Spain at the moment really makes us feel part of the preparations and certainly makes us feel like part of the team.
Let's remember this doesn't cost us anything. The club is gaining nothing from us in return apart from our goodwill. What they are also achieving is the humanisation of the men we cheer and at times get frustrated with, to see how bad some of them are at golf is both humorous and proof that they are human beings, fallible and have flaws like the rest of us.
Often when players say in interviews that 'there is a fantastic spirit in the camp', you take it with a pinch of salt, but this Saints content show that there really is. Would they be allowed that level of access if it wasn't?
If I had to criticise the media team in one respect it is that they bottled showing the videos of the new players signing in front of their teammates in their 'first away trip' ritual. Thankfully though, Nathaniel Clyne was not so shy and we all got to see the young players bellow a 'One Direction' hit.
In other news, Saints played their first match last night, and ran out 2-1 winners over UE Llagostera. Jay Rodriguez got both the goals, and there was input from new boys Victor Wanyama, Dejan Lovren and youngsters Isgrove, Chambers, Turnbull and Stephens whose one direction is certainly up.
Life as Southampton fan is pretty sweet at the moment, and with pre-season off to a good start, we can settle back and hope for a successful season. Either way, we know we will be privileged to watch the goings on at Saints from every possible perspective.
Keep the Faith.