Krueger a good appointment for Saints

Wednesday 12th March 2014 15:47

St Mary's Stadium: Future looks bright for Southampton

St Mary's Stadium: Future looks bright for Southampton

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Southampton FanZone blogger Ben Stanfield welcomes the appointment of Ralph Krueger as the new chairman at St Mary's.

The season has not even ended and yet Saints have already made their first shrewd acquisition - new chairman Ralph Krueger.

The 54-year-old Canadian-born German has been hired by Saints owner Katharina Liebherr to head up the newly-formed leadership team at St Mary's. Alongside Krueger, Hans Hofstetter, an international business lawyer, and Gareth Rogers, who was acting as the interim CEO at the Club already, have also been confirmed in their respective roles.

There will no doubt be many who see Kreuger, renowned for his fame in the American NHL, as a possible Clive Woodard-type figure - for those who don't remember, Woodward joined Saints as a technical support director in 2006 but didn't last very long!

I actually think it's a very exciting and positive appointment by Liebherr but there is no doubting Kreuger, who has strong team-building, coaching and leadership skills that he thrives on developing in other people, has a hard act to follow in Nicola Cortese.

Cortese, loved and loathed at equal measures, helped to build Southampton FC into the brand it is now and has rightly received a lot of praise for the hard work he did on both behalf of the Club and the Liebherr family.

But there was also a very highlighted manner in the way in which Cortese went about that revolution. In one word, ruthlessly!

Whilst commercially the club grew massively under Cortese's influence - both on and off the pitch - a lot of the traditions were cast aside in return.

Traditions like the club's colours (whether relevant or not), attracting young, local families to games (particularly in the cup tournaments), good communication with fans etc.

Krueger, who comes across as a very intelligent and savvy individual (also like Cortese), can hopefully take the club to the next level, whilst not forgetting what its core values are and always have been.

There is no doubting that in its present state Southampton Football Club - with its renowned youth system, large loyal fan base, young and very talented first team, talented young manager and backroom staff, and sound financial footing - is a club that lots of others around the world are very envious of.

But you can't take any of that for granted and need to have the right people in the right place to keep a positive momentum.

Krueger has certainly got off to a positive start by saying all of the right things but, like so many situations in life, actions speak louder than words. Like Cortese, Krueger isn't necessarily a 'football man' but there is no doubting his global sports experience and philosophy, and he shouldn't be dismissed or mocked before he has even had a chance to deliver his thoughts, plans and targets.

Any global team sport involves the same thing. It's about having a core group of talented individuals that can work together to achieve one common goal. Whether it's ice-hockey, football or sailing it's about having a support function around you that makes you deliver by believing in yourself and your abilities.

Krueger's pedigree in this field is second to none and, whilst Woodward probably turned up at the right place at the wrong time, Kreuger's moment couldn't seem any more perfect.

There will no doubt be several immediate goals that he is looking to achieve but for me the most significant one needs to be getting Mauricio Pochettino, who was very loyal to Cortese, to buy into his plans for the foreseeable future of the club and, off the back of that, sign a new contract.

Pochettino has taken Saints to a new level since replacing Nigel Adkins and is fast becoming highly sought after by 'bigger' clubs. But the project that started in July 2009 for Saints is far from finished, and Pochettino can (and hopefully will) play a significant part in working towards delivering that - having a young, heavily home-grown developed team, challenging for major UK and European honours.

As the famous Chinese proverb goes: "People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it". Saints are 'doing it' and people are starting to realise that now.

The future is bright for Saints and with the likes of Katharina Liebherr, Les Reed, Mauricio Pochettino, the players, the fans and now Ralph Kreuger, who's to say that those dreams can't become a reality!

I wish Kreuger and the new leadership team the very best at our club and look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour soon.

Just one final thing Ralph: make sure you don't ever say 'soccer'!

You can follow Ben on Twitter @benstanners - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.



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