Southampton 0 Ipswich Town 2: Lee sinks Saints as angry fans call for Lowe to go

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The Independent Football

Nine managers in nine years is the record of the Southampton chairman, Rupert Lowe. The supporters have been to a Cup final, have a new stadium and the club has improved turnover, but now they want a 10th change - Lowe himself.

Few local observers have seen such a passionate anti-Lowe movement, nor such a high percentage of a crowd on their feet when the chants turned to "Stand up if you want Lowe out."

Until then the "Lowe Out" banner had been accompanied by the more tuneful "Swing Lowe, swing Rupert Lowe, swinging from the Itchen Bridge." Protests continued after the match, but Lowe is probably too thick-skinned to take a rope to the aforementioned local toll bridge, even though he has marched the Saints back to mid-table Championship mediocrity.

Six defeats in seven League games is George Burley's record since replacing Harry Redknapp, who was hardly thriving. And the fans are not swallowing Lowe's protest that they were unfairly robbed of 16-year-old star asset Theo Walcott by Arsenal last week.

"We are sinking and I need to steady the ship," Burley admitted. "It will take time to improve but we have had enough changes here and now is a time to stick together. I understand their frustration after things have not gone right on the field for a year or two and now we have lost the best young player in the country too."

Burley wants "strong characters" and expects to change his squad significantly. In short, he said the club is a mess and he needs time to sort it out.

Both Ipswich's goals came from the recent £100,000 signing from Cardiff, Alan Lee, who scored in the fourth and 89th minutes and might have had four.

"We thoroughly deserved it and I'm delighted for Alan," said Ipswich manager, Joe Royle. "It's too soon to talk of play-offs but injuries to our strikers have meant we've been playing a 4-6-0 system up until now. Who knows where we would have been now with everyone fit?".

Southampton's main threat was striker Dexter Blackstock, who, despite being nippy and 19, is slow and inexperienced compared to Walcott. A few Southampton fans near the press box were so dismayed that they felt like going home at half-time. That just about summed it up.

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