This season’s success for Southampton is a remarkable story. After losing Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers in the summer, Southampton had to carry out one of the biggest rebuilding processes in Premier League history.
Rather brilliantly, the club not only managed to replace the players who departed the club, they have also leapt up the table, currently occupying 4th place in the league. This is in part down to the new players that have been brought in but most of the credit must go with Ronald Koeman.
The Dutchman has encouraged Southampton to play good, free-flowing football as well as being incredibly solid at the back. They have kept the most amount of clean sheets this season and have no problems in hitting the back of the net. It looks as if the Saints can really maintain their push for a Champions League place due to the quality available to them.
What was so vitally important about Southampton’s summer was the way they spent the heaps of cash that was available to them due to the mass departure of players from the south coast club. Around £88m was received in transfer fees in the summer of 2014, with Southampton re-investing almost £57m of that in new talent.
The likes of Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle, Fraser Forster, Florin Gardos, Shane Long and Sadio Mane were all brought in. Most have really impressed since signing for the Saints and it’s something that will sit very nicely with the Southampton fans who may have felt just a tad uneasy about the mass squad overhaul in the summer.
Now that Southampton are settled with the squad that they have, it is vitally important that they keep this team together. The last thing Koeman needs is another busy summer with many players departing the club. There is no doubt that the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin will be attracting interest from some of the league’s top clubs. However, if Southampton manage to qualify for the Champions League, there is no reason as to why the club should not be able keep hold of their star players.
The Saints would be taking a huge step in the right direction by qualifying for the biggest club competition in European football. Koeman will need to lose Southampton’s reputation as a ‘selling club’ if he is to take the club to the next level. Therefore, the board should do all they can to resist offers from other clubs, similar to the manner in which they kept hold of Morgan Schneiderlin last summer.
As well as keeping hold of some of their best players, they should also try and bring in players who have impressed on loan at the club. Koeman has already secured the services of Ryan Bertrand due to his impressive displays for the club whilst on a temporary deal from Chelsea. The same approach needs to be taken regarding the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Eljero Elia, two players who have really looked like quality additions since they arrived at the club.
Southampton really are this season’s success story and have transformed themselves since they came up from the Championship in 2012. They represent how a club should be run, playing the right football and taking full advantage of the young players they produce.
Southampton are not a club which have bought their way to the higher end of the Premier League, it has taken a lot of hard work – and huge risks at times – but fortunately it has paid off. The next step for Southampton is cementing their place amongst England’s elite, but they are only going to do that if they can avoid a repetition of last summer’s transfer exodus.