At the end of 2013-14 season, Mauricio Pochettino left, and with him went 6 first team players. The likes of Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren among others left the South coast club with just its bare bones. The coach, having guided them to their record-breaking season left for greener pastures and players like Morgan Schneiderlin were twitching their hands to engineer a move for themselves. They brought Ronald Koeman. Having been odds-on favourite to ply their trade at Championship in 2015, Saint Mary’s stadium was the host to Premier League football in the 2014-15 season. Having defied odds, they bettered their previous season’s record.Then the annual sale commenced.
Will Southampton can win the game?
Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool and Schneiderlin to Manchester United.Two big names again decided to part with the club. They endured. At the end of 2016 season, they had secured their qualification in the Europa League. And then the cycle of heartbreaks returned. Ronald Koeman decided to resurrect the fortunes of Everton, a club which guaranteed him one thing that Southampton couldn’t: The stay of stars and arrival of quality players.Not surprising then, Sadio Mane, their wrecker-in-chief from last season will be turning out for Liverpool while his former club compatriot will be plying his trade at White Hart Lane for Tottenham Hotspurs while their striker Graziano Pelle has pledged his allegience to Shandong Leuneng.So what does this year hold for Saint Mary’s?
Rising from the ashes…Again?
If the last three years have shown anything, it’s that the South coast club endure. Having seen their team members prized by big clubs over and over again, they have not just managed to survive, but rebuild and flourish. While Leicester’s title triumph drew plenty of plaudits from the pundits for their transfer recruitments and their eye for spotting talent, the work done at Southampton has been nothing short of exemplary.With the likes of Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Schneiderlin and Luke Shaw among others, Southampton have produced quality talents over and over again.Their imports have largely been profitable while their homegrown talent has been excellent. This season, something similar will be expected of them.Whether they will be able to deliver remains to be seen. The replacement process for Koeman though has been typical of the club. Claude Puel, who guided Nice to a spectacular fourth place finish last season has been charged with taking Southampton forward.
Pierre-Emile Hojberg’s signature secured to combat
While winger Nathan Redmond has been brought in from Norwich City to fill Mane’s shoes, Pierre-Emile Hojberg’s signature been secured to combat the absence of Victor Wanyama. The right-back is spot that Puel is now focussing on. Having Jay Rodriguez, Shane Long and Charlie Austin in their attacks, the addition of one more striker would do them good considering Rodriguez’s battles with cruciate ligament and Austin’s persistent injury troubles. Les Reed has been instrumental behind the scenes for the last three years and the executive director of football at Southampton rightly deserves all the praise.This season is altogether different ball game though. With the record television deal kicking in, the incentive of playing in Premier League as well as the lure of financial rewards of European football must be playing on his mind. Though paltry as compared to Champions league, the second tier european competition does offer the chance to the better one. The shots of making it all the way are distant, but the chance is there at least.
We have become accustomed to the sight of the annual summer sale at Southampton year after year. And they have managed to outperform season after season for the last three years. However, they would be well-served to look at Swansea’s campaign last season. Having used to expecting the Welsh side finishing near the halfway mark in the Premier league rankings for the last few years, it was a surprise seeing them battling relegation from christmas to March. A repeat of that South coast though would not go down well with the fans.