Southampton looked certain for doom this season after selling so many top players in the Summer, but they have shown early on that they will be safe despite the summer exodus.
The football world (at least in England) was left in shock over the summer when the Saints were selling their best players and seemed to be having their team stripped to its bare bones.
Rickie Lambert got things kicked off with his move to Liverpool, closely followed by Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren. Then Calum Chambers, a very promising player for the club, left to join Arsenal with Luke Shaw going to Manchester United. Dani Osvaldo left for Italian giants Inter Milan whilst Gaston Ramierz went to Hull City, and Billy Sharpe to Leeds United. It doesn’t even stop there which is the surprising thing.
Some re-enforcement came in the other direction in the shape of Shane Long, Ryan Betrand, Fraser Forster, Florin Gardos, Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic, but to bring a lot of different players into your club, mostly from abroad and expect them to instantly gel and perform to the same high standard as the stars you had last season that you just finished selling off, is a big ask! Just ask Tottenham Hotspur who had spent £100million last season and failed to make any sort of worthwhile impact.
It was expected that the Saints would suffer an even worse fortune with a hastily assembled team and in many people’s eyes they looked certain to go straight down to the Championship. This would be a disaster for the South Coast club after all the hard work that has gone in to getting them back up from League One to the Premiership with back to back promotions, and then a stability period in the top flight, which showed it was no fluke. They were playing some very good football and became very hard to beat, even for the bigger teams, and certainly established themselves well since coming back up to the Premier League, showing everyone that they were a force to be reckoned with.
It was hard not to feel sorry for the loyal Saint’s fans who had to witness such a summer of revolving door transfer action, and it took the club to the latter parts of the transfer window to actually recruit most of their replacements, so it must have left their fans pretty worried about what would happen.
Cue Ronald Koeman at the helm then, to take on the seemingly impossible job of getting this newly formed squad of players together and winning games. First up for the Saints was an opening game against Liverpool which many expected them to lose quite heavily. But they played a very good game, shutting Liverpool down and stopping them from playing the football they wanted to, and it was only a narrow 2-1 defeat that saw Southampton not take anything from a game that they certainly deserved at least a point from.
Since that game they have remained unbeaten, with a home draw against West Bromwich Albion then a rampant 3-1 victory away to West Ham and a 4-0 demolition of Newcastle. They also beat Millwall in the League cup second round 2-0 at The New Den. They have looked a force to be reckoned with so far, mirroring last season’s efforts if not bettering them in the process. They did not look second rate against any of the teams they have played. To go to Upton Park and bully the Hammers into conceding three goals at home is not easily achieved – as Liverpool found out on Saturday – but they managed to do it and make it look easy.
The football played by the newly assembled Southampton team has looked good, solid and fluid. They have been attacking well and creating a lot of chances. So it seems that despite the summer exodus, they do not seem to have faltered and if anything they look even better.
So now, instead of being tipped for the drop, they could well be nailed on for a top eight finish.
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