A new manager, a new era! It’s the same old story for Southampton, who’ll be preparing for life under a new leader yet again.
Mauricio Pellegrino, formerly of Spanish La Liga side Alaves, will have the responsibility of regaining Southampton’s momentum. Last season was a huge blip in Southampton’s adventure, after they finished eighth place in Claude Puel’s sole season at the St Marys’ Stadium.
Finishing as runners-up in the EFL Cup final against Manchester United was the ultimate high last season. However, overall it was incredibly disappointing considering the recent high standards they’ve set themselves in their previous three seasons.
Virgil Van Dijk’s future at Southampton remains uncertain as the Dutchman’s transfer saga looks set to be prolonged into the beginning of the Premier League campaign. Poland under-21 defender Jan Bednarek joined from Lech Poznan in June but the 21-year-old looks to be a purchase for the future.
Saints are attempting to abolish the recent trend of selling on their high-profile players to fellow Premier League rivals. This would be a huge statement by the club if they preserve the services of Virgil Van Dijk this summer.
Southampton should be expecting another difficult season but must be patient with Pellegrino. He improved newly-promoted Alaves remarkably by achieving a top-half finish in the Spanish La Liga and reaching the Copa del Rey final, where they were defeated by FC Barcelona.
The Argentine is a young and promising manager, who has the potential to achieve success at Southampton in the long-term future. Could they really of expected to replace manager after manager and not experience any sort of decline?
It’s not possible in the modern game, a team needs continuity and this will ultimately increase team morale, which will provide better performances over a long period of time. Can they maintain their journey into the dreamland (the UEFA Champions League)? Yes, of course, but it may be a couple of seasons until they achieve their goal as they need to reassemble and rebuild to set the foundations for development and progress.
Where are the incoming players for Southampton?
Jan Bednarek, who signed from Lech Poznan in June, remains their highest-profile signing thus far in this summer’s transfer window. There is currently more talk of potential departures, instead of possible incomings.
The Virgil Van Dijk saga is becoming an extremely tedious and frustrating process, due to the contrasting media reports from various websites and blogs. Liverpool think he’s on his way to Anfield, whereas Southampton supporters feel VVD will remain in red and white stripes for another season.
John Aldridge has suggested the Dutchman should go on strike to force a move to Liverpool. This inflicted a frustrated reaction from Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier via social media outlet Twitter.
Chelsea have also been linked with the former Celtic defender, who would surely be a more favourable selling partner due to their recent qualms with Liverpool. The reds have signed five players from Southampton in the last three seasons but it’s clear they’re reluctant to continue the trend this summer.
Ryan Bertrand has also been linked with a move away but is incredibly unlikely to be departing from the St Marys’ Stadium. Jay Rodriguez has ended his five-year spell with the saints by moving to West Bromwich Albion, after being tragically injury-stricken in his last three seasons.
There is hardly any declaration in terms of any possible incoming players to the club. The rumours are dying up at a rapid pace, despite the fact that they’re craving another forward. Charlie Austin’s injury problems are a general concern and are likely to pile the responsibility on the shoulders of Italian forward Manolo Gabbiadini.
What does the new season hold for Southampton?
Southampton’s board and vice-chairman Les Reed have built a platform for future success. They boast an effectively productive youth academy, which has churned out the likes of Alan Shearer, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It’s a sensible and perceptible way of running the club, which is something the Southampton faithful should embrace. In terms of the short-term future, I feel they’ll suffer due to their lack of activity in the transfer window and because they’ll be entering another phase of transition under Pellegrino.
Note to Southampton fans; don’t expect immediate success! Give him time because you’ll reap the rewards in the long-term future. It’s time to build upon what Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman built during their spells at the club.
They require another striker, possibly another central midfielder and arguably another central defender due to their failure to replace former captain Jose Fonte. Maya Yoshida lacks the quality to perform consistently in the Premier League and Jack Stephens remains a raw talent.
The potential defensive partnership between Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens looks incredibly positive for Southampton. This will take two or three seasons to materialise but it could be a potentially solid duo if Bednarek adapts to life in the Premier League.
I think Southampton will finish in the top half this season but will be lagging behind the pack in contention for European qualification. So, it could be a similar story to last season but what’ll be different is that they’ll have their eye on the future.