It’s safe to say that Claude Puel hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts to his Southampton career.
After four games, the St. Mary’s outfit find themselves in the relegation zone, still chasing that all-important first top-flight win under their new manager.
Indeed, it’s been a worrying few weeks for Saints fans; in addition to the above, their club have conceded six times and only scored three at the other end.
But there’s no doubt Southampton are a good side, one that we have a particular appreciation for due to their emphasis on home-grown talent and devotion to playing optimistic, exciting football.
And it’s still incredibly early in the season – some say you shouldn’t even look at the Premier League table until after ten games.
With that in mind and a whopping 34 Premier League fixtures remaining, here are five reasons Southampton can turn their stuttered start to the season around.
Admittedly, Southampton should have done much better upon facing Watford and Sunderland at home, claiming a point apiece against two sides most expect to finish in or around the relegation zone come the end of the season.
At the same time, however, playing away to Arsenal and Manchester United in the opening four weeks of the season represents incredible misfortune in terms of scheduling.
But the good news is that Southampton have got arguably their two toughest away games out of the way already.
There’s always huge pressure on new managers to hit the ground running in the Premier League, but that can’t be the case in every instance.
Claude Puel more than proved his managerial ability with Lyon and Nice and although his Saints spell has started with a whimper, it should be remembered that he’s been at the club for just two months.
He’s brought in a new formation and a slightly different style of play, whilst three of Southampton’s top talents – Victor Wanyama, Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle – left during the summer, so it’s inevitable the team has taken some time to adapt.
In a few more weeks, Southampton could be a much more coherent outfit.
Southampton recorded their highest ever final standing of the Premier League era last season, finishing up in sixth place. But it’s long forgotten that they actually endured a very underwhelming start to the campaign, dropping all the way to 16th place after six games with three draws and one win.
The Saints turned it around last year and although some of their key players have left, the likes of Jose Fonte and Steven Davis maintain that strong mentality in the dressing room.
As aforementioned, Southampton lost three of their biggest talents over the summer in Wanyama, Mane and Pelle.
Unfortunately, however, Claude Puel is still waiting for a chance to utilise the talismanic midfielder he signed to fill the void – Sofiane Boufal.
By all accounts, the Moroccan is an incredibly exciting young player who some have even compared to Eden Hazard. Once he’s recovered from injury, Southampton will have a new focal point of their attack and a hugely promising young player in their starting XI.
That could make a massive difference in terms of results.
Of course, no player can keep a team up single-handed but Southampton boast a phenomenal attacking threat in Serbian international Dusan Tadic.
The midfield maestro bagged seven goals and twelve assists in 28 Premier League outings last term and was a real handful against Arsenal on Saturday, forcing Petr Cech into an own goal.
He’s got the quality to drag Southampton up the table, provided Claude Puel utilises his abilities properly, and could perform even better upon linking up with the aforementioned Boufal.