Southampton fans and neutrals alike may have expected the south coast outfit to be active in the summer transfer market having only narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship last month, but it hasn’t been the case.
Saints took their time to bring in Mark Hughes on a permanent basis after he kept them up in the final eight matches of the campaign, and there have been no major ins or outs since that moment even though some of their Premier League rivals have been busy both being linked with new additions and bringing them in.
The Daily Echo reported on Wednesday that the club has only just started looking at potential new additions this summer, and perhaps they feel that it would have been difficult for them to get any deals done before the World Cup with some of their targets also potentially featuring in Russia.
Those Southampton supporters who have been moaning on Twitter and expecting to see and overhaul and five or six new faces arrive should trust in the club and Hughes though, because if they keep the majority of their squad together it doesn’t actually need too much work.
That’s the fixtures done, how about some signings eh ?#saintsfc
— Ben Harding (@northamsoul7) June 14, 2018
Fan forums are good PR and improving the ‘matchday experience’ is cool but #saintsfc might find their season ticket sales were better if they’d shown any urgency to get much-needed signings through the door to change fortunes *on the pitch*. Just an idea… pic.twitter.com/rwXJKZf4nM
— Lucy Highnett (@lucyhighnett) June 13, 2018
No new signings = relegation next season. Get some in Les. #saintsfc
— sfcpaul (@sfcpaul100) June 12, 2018
While the south coast outfit, who should hijack Brighton’s £22m bid to sign an attacker with 36 goals and assists in 2017/18, were really poor under Mauricio Pellegrino, it perhaps had something to do with how bad the manager was rather than the team as a whole not being good enough.
Those players certainly showed in the closing stages of the 2017/18 campaign that they do have the quality in the locker if they have a boss that organises them and keeps their fitness levels high – which is what Hughes did – and with a couple of tweaks they could be a force again.
[brid autoplay=”true” video=”255885″ player=”12034″ title=”Watch Southampton’s opening fixtures for the 201819 Premier League season”]
Towards the end of Pellegrino’s reign, fans may have been expecting Cedric Soares, Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic, Mario Lemina and Manolo Gabbiadini to leave St Mary’s whichever division they found themselves in come what May. However, the situation and mentality of those players may well have changed under the tutelage of Hughes, and those individuals who looked almost certain to be on their way out may now stay for at least another year.
Sofiane Boufal is one name that could be on his way out however after he fell out with his Welsh boss following the defeat against Chelsea in April, before being excluded from first-team training and their final few Premier League fixtures.
If Saints manage to keep hold of Bertrand, Cedric, Tadic and Lemina in particular – who may not attract too many admiring glances from other clubs considering they were involved in a relegation battle last term – then they don’t need too many signings.
As things stand, they have a good goalkeeper, two decent full-backs, strong central midfield options and strength in depth when it comes to strikers.
The areas where they do perhaps need some strengthening are at centre-back and on the wings, where they lacked experience and quality and pace, respectively.
While a priority must surely be to bring in an experienced centre-half and leader to help the likes of Wesley Hoedt, Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek with Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk sometimes sorely missed in 2018, a wide forward who can score and create is also a must – something Southampton haven’t really had since they sold Sadio Mane with Boufal and Nathan Redmond often struggling.
Yes, Southampton do need a couple of quality additions to push on next season, but the St Mary’s faithful shouldn’t be panicking or getting too downhearted about their lack of business just yet.