THE SAINTS ARE MARCHING ON

southampton

The South Coast Club

After their sensational finish to the 2013/14 season, Southampton was one of the few overachieving clubs of the season where they finished eighth in the league. Tottenham wasted no time in persuading their manager, Mauricio Pochettino who agreed to join the White Hart Lane outfit. Similarly, several key first team players departed to bigger teams. Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool, Calum Chambers was sold to Arsenal as well as Luke Shaw to Manchester United were the high profile departures.

Seeing their coach and players being snapped up by bigger clubs was a reminder of Southampton’s rightful place in the food chain of the game. They are a feeder’s club to the big teams.

New head coach, Ronald Koeman claimed they were not a selling club during his introduction at the club but he was helpless during the transfer window with the departure of star players. However, the Dutch tactician cleverly brought in players like Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle, Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand etc to fill the void created and ease tension amongst supporters.

At the start of the season, expectation of smashing the glass ceiling like the previous year had flown out of the window and whispers of a long season with a possibility of relegation whispered around Saint Mary’s.

Koeman had taken a job which required rebuilding. With the positive mindset of a strong academy and plenty of money in the bank from players’ sale, he needed to implement his ideas to his team real quick.

koeman saint

The Rebuilder….Koeman

 

The Saints opened their campaign away to previous season’s runners up Liverpool losing 2-1; this was followed by scoreless draw against West Brom at home. With one point out of a possible six, no one except Portsmouth fans  would begrudge their supporters to think they were heading into an unknown territory with a manager who has a divided opinion on his managerial career. Even as a multiple title winner with PSV and Ajax, Copa del Rey winner with Valencia, he almost got Los Ches relegated. Koeman also had a rough spell with AZ Alkmaar and his time at Benfica was not very successful either.

Their visit to Boleyn Ground late August was the start of their rise; they defeated West Ham 3-1 and followed it with a convincing home win against Newcastle. The Saints enjoyed a good run from September till late November where they lost once to their former manager’s new team Tottenham. Koeman’s side was truly punching above their weight as they sat comfortably in second place till the visit of Manchester City. The Champions brought the South coast club back to earth with a crushing 3-0 defeat at home. Southampton lost their next three league fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester United and Burnley but like the phoenix which they have proven to be this season, they returned to winning ways in December against Everton and have not looked back since. Since the turn of the year, they have beaten Arsenal at home and inflicted home defeats on Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Their league cup run was ended by Sheffield United during their poor run of form early December while they have progressed into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

saints

Can they march on into UCL?

The Saints sit pretty comfortable in third position after 22 league games. European places do not look beyond their reach at this pace except for a catastrophic decline.

If last season’s success instigated the decision of bigger clubs to dismantle them before metamorphosing into a genuine force, their determination has inspired them to march on.

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