When Southampton FC lost their manager as well as several key players during the summer, many people had been expecting them to be sucked into a relegation dogfight and plunging back into the Coca Cola Championship.
Saints can finish the season with Champions League football
But the Saints have done the complete opposite. With their fantastic 1-0 victory against a woeful Manchester United side yesterday morning (Auckland Time), they are sitting in third position in the league table – and in a great position to finish their first season back in the top flight – with the tantalising prospect of Champions League football, as long as they keep up their fine performances.
One of Southampton’s most memorable performances this season, includes their magnificent 8-0 win over Sunderland in the first few months of their campaign. I still remember being completely awed by how well they had done – especially considering that they were only promoted to English football’s top flight, the season before last. Now, their performances continue to be no less impressive. Every time I think they will fail and that their bubble may burst, it doesn’t.
They lost many key players and their manager during the summer
Having lost many of their key players as well as their manager at the end of last season, this only makes Southampton’s performances even more stunning. For example, Mauricio Pochettino, who had successfully guided the club to the Premier League, ditched the club to become a part of Tottenham Hotspur. In addition, last season’s key player Luke Shaw moved to Manchester United and Adam Lallana became a Liverpool player.
But rather, instead of panicking and crying over the departure of their manager and players, the Saints have replaced these losses with great buys and used the money that they got from the sale of their key players, very wisely.
Ronald Koeman’s appointment was a fabulous decision
In fact, one of their best decisions was to appoint as their new manager, Ronald Koeman from Dutch club Feyenoord. Under Koeman’s charge, the players of Southampton have developed a great team spirit and they gel very well together.
And with Koeman ensuring that each player is able to communicate with each other very effectively on the pitch and also able to read each other really well, this is a key ingredient of the Saints’ success so far this season. This was very evident in yesterday’s game against Manchester United. While the Saints were very effective as a well-oiled machine, the Red Devils were haphazard, disorganised and simply put, all over the place on the field. The lacklustre Devils didn’t have a single clue at what had hit them.
Saints have also picked up great players that gel together well
Besides picking up a great manager, the Saints have also replaced their key players beautifully, with shrewd buys at bargain prices that work very well together with the rest of the squad. Moreover, none of their players think that they are greater than the club itself – an ironic problem that many of the illustrious European clubs around the world are facing.
For example, Dusan Tadic cost only 10.9 million pounds, but over the months, he has quickly become an integral part of Southampton’s squad. Goalkeeper Fraiser Foster from Celtic and Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord have also proven to be great, shrewd signings for the club. These players are not star names and may not have sublime talent compared to your Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but when put together, they can work wonders, as the Saints have proven countless times this season so far.
Confidence amongst the players is sky-high
In addition, with each win against major opposition that the Saints pick up, the confidence in the players have increased by leaps and bounds. Right now, I can practically see the confidence practically oozing through the Southampton squad.
Right now, I feel that with each game, the Southampton squad have complete faith in their own abilities and right now, the only problem that they will probably face, that will cause them to fail, is overconfidence. So as long as this does not happen, the Saints players will certainly have a really memorable season to remember, possibly for the rest of their lives.
Click here for a BPL Report Card for the 2014/2015 Mid Season.