It’s been a summer of upheaval for Saints so far, but on the eve of the Premier League season, here are reasons for Southampton fans to be positive ahead of the new campaign.
1. Ronald Koeman
The Dutch legend comes in with bags of experience and is a proven winner. As a player, he won Euro 88 as well as two European Cups, nine league titles in Spain and the Netherlands, and four domestic cups. As a manager in the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, he has won silverware in the shape of three league titles, two domestic cups and three Community Shield equivalents.
2. Big name signings with top-level experience
Whilst a big reputation doesn’t guarantee success, it does underscore ambition by those who brought them to the club and players such as Fraser Forster, Saphir Taider and Ryan Bertrand have lots of experience at the highest levels of club football. Indeed Forster was referred to as “The Wall” by the Spanish press after his heroics for Celtic against Barcelona, Bertrand has a Champions League medal and Taider has come from one of the biggest clubs in the world following a World Cup.
3. Despite the sales, most of the big players are still here
Yes, we will never again see the names Lallana, Lambert, Lovren, Shaw and Chambers on the Saints teamsheet, but a lot of key players from the last few years remain on the squad list; Jay Rodriguez, Victor Wanyama, Jose Fonte, Gaston Ramirez, Jack Cork, Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin, Steven Davis – they’re all still Saints players and many Premier League managers would be happy to have them in their side.
4. Experience and trust
Graziano Pellè and Dusan Tadic come from the Dutch leagues and one can only assume Koeman made a beeline for this pair due to his knowledge and experience of what they can do. Whilst the Premier League is undoubtedly a step up from the Eredivise, the manager obviously has faith in what they can do due to his first hand experience of their talents – especially in the case of Pelle who scored 55 goals for Koeman.
5. Long term planning
It’s easy to buy into the narrative that Saints have been in absolute turmoil this summer, but signings like Shane Long suggest otherwise. The club expressed interest in Long early last season meaning that his capture is not just a panic decision. He – and other targets – will have been identified and evaluated at length long before the credit card is whipped out. Nicola Cortese boasted about the club’s ability to plan and be unfazed by unexpected developments. Perhaps we have just seen that in action.