Southampton’s season may not have come off the rails, but it is wobbling badly.
A run of four straight defeats in the Premier League have come at the worst possible time – heading into the hectic festive period – while dreams of a Wembley outing in the Capital One Cup have been dashed by League One Sheffield United.
Tuesday’s defeat to the Blades highlighted the lack of confidence in the Saints ranks at present, with an opportunity to rebuild belief squandered at Bramall Lane.
Skipper Jose Fonte admits the midweek performance was not good enough and has called on his teammates to take a long, hard look at themselves as they endeavour to bring about a reversal in fortune at St Mary’s.
He told the club’s official YouTube channel: “It was not acceptable. I would firstly like to apologise to the fans, they didn’t deserve this. That is not us.
“Given the last games we’ve lost, we played and we showed that we are better than the opposition and we had the opportunities to win and deserved more from them games.
“But tonight, I’m disappointed obviously and I’m angry because we had a great opportunity to go and do something special and we just blew it.
“Everyone needs to take responsibility, not hide in their shell. We must stand up and be counted because there’s another game in the Premier League and we need to stop this bad run.
“The minimum we can do is try our maximum and give everything that we can, but tonight was disappointing because I think we should have done much better.
“I just want to apologise to the fans, because they didn’t deserve it. We will be working harder to make sure this never happens again. It is an opportunity lost but there is still a long season ahead.”
The problem for Southampton is that the tough tests keep on coming.
Their schedule through to the end of January will see them take in meetings with Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United.
Ronald Koeman desperately needs to rediscover his side’s early-season spark, with it shaping up to be a far from Merry Christmas for those on the south coast.