While Leicester City rightly get the headlines from the 2015-16 season, it cannot be underestimated the job that manager Ronald Koeman has done at Southampton.
Last Sunday’s win over Tottenham saw Southampton equal their highest points tally in the Premier League era with 60 points. Sitting in seventh position, Europa League qualification still remains a possibility with one game remaining.
The catalogue of players who have left Southampton since the 2013-14 season cannot be dismissed. Players such as Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers, Nathaniel Clyne, Rickie Lambert and Jack Cork are fairly handy players on paper. Over 115 million pounds was raised in transfer fees for players departing St Marys.
While you do not want to lose quality players, Southampton certainly know how to make sure they are financially compensated for any players that do leave the club.
Losing players in the last two years meant it was always going to be a difficult task for Koeman when he took over at Southampton in June 2014. Not only replacing a host of players, it was going to take time for the players to integrate and learn new tactics and a system the new manager wanted to implement. While Koeman is an experienced manager it was his first ever stint in the Premier League.
Some of the notable players that joined Southampton for the 2014-15 season and played important roles were Dušan Tadić, Graziano Pelle, Fraser Forster, Shane Long and Saido Mane.
Southampton ended the campaign in seventh. A great result given many pundits felt a rapid decline was in order with not only the players that had departed but also manager Mauricio Pochettino, who departed the club for Tottenham.
After losing more players at the end of the 2014-15 campaign Southampton attempted to re-invest into the squad where possible. Some of the more notable players who joined the club were Jordy Clasie, Virgil van Dijk, Cedric Soares, Cuco Martina and Juanmi, who all have played important roles this season. Charlie Austin also joined during the January transfer window.
Like previous seasons many well performed Southampton players have been linked away with moves. The key will be holding onto their best talent.
Defender Van Dijk signed a contract extension in the last week and Koeman is also believed to be in talks about a possible contract extension, with only one year remaining on his current deal. With Everton sacking Roberto Martinez it is expected Koeman will be one of the targets to take over at Goodison Park.
After being considered a selling club in recent years maybe squad stability with a couple of additions is all that is needed to improve. Success is measured differently for different clubs but with the loss of key personnel over recent years it has certainly been a successful campaign for the Saints.
The next question is whether Southampton can push further up the table next season.
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel is taking things one game at a time having watched his side slumped to a sixth consecutive A-League defeat. A goal in each half from defenders Gregory Wuthrich and Alex Grant gave Perth Glory a 2-0 win at HBF Park on Saturday night as they leapfrogged the Wanderers to […]