The general narrative around Southampton doesn’t need to be added to, because everyone seems to be knee-deep in their premature relegation prophecies and assumptions that the current sales are being sanctioned for the financial satisfaction of Katharina Liebherr and her family.
That’s wrong and it really always has been - as BBC Radio Solent‘s interview with Ralph Krueger confirmed, Ronald Koeman has clearance to reinvest substantial amounts of money this Summer and the club are actively working on adding to the squad before the transfer-window closes.
The portrayal of Southampton’s Non-Executive Chairman and owner, Katharina Liebherr, has been galling throughout this process. Ever since the news broke that Nicola Cortese would be leaving the club back in January, she has been painted as an obstacle to future success - Neil Ashton, The Mail’s tedious little errand boy, actually went as far as to call her a ‘dream wrecker’ six months ago.
The question is, that with little actually known about Liebherr or her intentions for Southampton, how much of this negative coverage has been because of her gender? The football press is vastly over-populated with white, thirty or forty-something males from similar backgrounds, and it seems that a pulse of latent misogyny has run all the way through the coverage of this episode. The moment she entered the press’ domain she was instantaneously turned into a Violet Beauregarde character.
If Liebherr was male, would the same assumptions have been made about her and would they have been made as quickly?
This isn’t just a tabloid problem either, as The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson proved this morning - reacting to news of further Southampton sales with a sneering ‘somebody wants their money back’-themed tweet. Wilson has subsequently deleted that comment and replaced it with a more balanced remark, but it’s evident that there’s a lingering distrust of Liebherr and it was a reminder that it doesn’t take very much for some to revert to the ‘silly little woman’ analysis.
Yes, they’ve sold a lot of players and, yes, at the time of writing that is alarming, but the club are also now sitting on an enormous transfer-budget that they seem intent on spending. Judge away from September 1st onwards, but not before.
Maybe Liebherr’s association with the club won’t ultimately be seen as a success and maybe she does have long-term self-orientated motives, but the level of gender-based assumption is still disconcerting.
Latest for Squawka: The value of Stevan Jovetic to Manchester City this season.