Southampton have been truly exceptional so far this season, and at the forefront of their success is skipper Jose Fonte. The defender has been as solid as a rock in the Saints defence, and he is a major factor of why Ronald Koeman’s side are exceeding all expectations.
Fonte celebrated a new three-year deal at St Mary’s in August by being handed the captaincy by Koeman. Championship side Cardiff City had a £3m bid rejected by the Saints in July, as the 31-year-old pledged his future to Southampton. But nobody, not even Fonte himself, could have envisioned just how well the Saints’ new-look team would be doing, or how he would become their most vital player.
Pundits Garth Crooks, Glenn Hoddle and Jamie Carragher – are just a few names who have praised the Portuguese defender recently. The ex-Crystal Palace star was faultless in Southampton’s 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, and he just emphasised his importance on the side even further. Fonte stifled the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Angel di Maria, and in truth United’s superstars didn’t get too much of a look in. The Portugal international didn’t put a foot wrong in Southampton’s FA Cup third round replay with Ipswich Town on Wednesday either – as the Saints won 1-0 at Portman Road, with Fonte as dominant as ever.
Fonte has been at St Mary’s ever since the Saints were battling it out in League One. The skipper has been part of Southampton’s monumental rise all the way from the third tier of English football – to third in the Barclays Premier League. In his five years with the Saints, the South Coast club have gained back-to-back promotions to the top flight, and have had two very successful years in the Premier League – developing every year.
As for this season, it’s been truly remarkable for everyone involved with the club. After the well documented loss of the majority of their stars (apart from Fonte) and indeed their manager Mauricio Pochettino, the Saints were widely predicted to struggle this season. But with the arrival of the experienced boss Ronald Koeman, who’s had spells of managing the likes of Ajax, Benfica and most recently Feyenoord, they had a more than capable manger coming into St Mary’s.
The Dutchman’s shrewdness in the Summer Transfer Window, has been another major factor of the Saints’ success this term. The likes of Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic, Fraser Forster and Shane Long – to name a few, have all been outstanding. But keeping hold of Morgan Schneiderlin and Jose Fonte, could well have been the best bit of business Southampton did over the summer – the St Mary’s faithful will be hoping their club can keep hold of these two, as they push for a European place.
It’s anyone’s guess how far the Saints can go this season – After two outstanding results against Arsenal and Manchester United recently, and with four wins in their last five Premier League outings, the Saints are going to be extremely hard to dislodge from the top four places.