Southampton is like that annoying person you never invite anywhere but who always manage to turn up, the only difference being that the Saints are actually quite likeable and you don’t mind them hanging around.
Currently sitting in the middle of the Premier League, Southampton has done extremely well this year for a club known for developing and selling its best players. More talent was sold off this season, with top scorers Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle allowed to leave in the summer along with the defensive rocks Victor Wanyama and Jose Fonte.
At the same time a managerial merry-go-round left them with the relatively unknown Claude Puel in charge. That sort of turnover has become the norm at St Mary’s Stadium. Two seasons after rejoining the Premier League in 2012 Southampton sold its stand-outs Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool, Luke Shaw to Manchester United and Calum Chambers to Arsenal. It seems they will be forced to do the same again this summer as the talented pair of Virgil Van Dijk and Fraser Forster are set to depart.
Southampton won’t be too fazed by losing players as it has a successful youth setup and a history of astute signings; you would expect the seasiders to bounce back immediately. It is a simple buy and sell strategy that normally only works in games like Monopoly but somehow it manages to deliver every season for the St Mary’s faithful. An unfortunate defeat in the League Cup final against ManU left them one inch short of a perfect season.
Aside from the League Cup run, you might argue that Southampton has had an pedestrian season but the club’s ability to rebuild after losing so much talent in summer is something of a miracle. In the last four transfer windows the Saints have sold a total of 16 first team players for £173 million while signing 24 players worth £82 million.
That is a business model that even Richard Branson would admire! It has also had managers such as Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman walk away, along with some board members. When ManU suffered similar departures the impact was obvious, as the Red Devils plunged from champions to being stuck in 6th place. That hasn’t been the case for Southampton who have gone from 14th four years ago to 9th this season. In fact they are setting an example for every club in the league.
The Saints continue to surprise us with their determination to fight back after losing big chunks of their first team. The fans are patient and believe in the model, and the rewards have been immense. With money in the bank, a mid-table finish around the corner and a Cup runners-up medal, if Southampton spend well in the transfer window we could be looking at another team ready to scrap for the top seven places.
by Nubaid Haroon YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCtMg-fWm7awR41vM1GhVOkA Twitter: twitter.com/rambofyi