Nobody expected Southampton to struggle to the extent that they have this season.
The Saints’ recruitment policy was always likely to cause a poor season at some point, but the talent that they have in their squad led many to believe that they were too good for a relegation battle.
Unfortunately, the club’s quality hasn’t been enough to keep them out of the bottom three and they currently sit in the relegation zone with three matches left to play.
Victory over Bournemouth at the weekend has given them hope and they now go into their away match against Swansea City knowing that three points would see them climb out of the bottom three.
Dusan Tadic was the hero as he produced the two goals required to see off the Cherries in a South Coast derby.
The Serbian international has blown hot and cold since arriving in the Premier League, but he has the star quality to fire Southampton to safety.
The Saints are in the position they are in for many reasons, but one of their main downfalls has been their attack.
They haven’t scored enough goals and had failed to score in five of their last eight matches in all competitions prior to Saturday.
It was obvious they needed one of their attackers to step up and be more clinical in the final third.
Although Tadic is known for his creativity, he can offer a direct goal threat and he did that against Bournemouth.
He had two chances and took both in a show of clinical finishing that had eluded Southampton during recent weeks.
The first was a smart finish after a quick counter-attack from the home side, while the second was a great strike that required precision and guile.
Southampton didn’t have it all their own way and Bournemouth caused them problems, but the performance from Tadic in the final third provided the cutting edge required to secure a crucial win.
There are some players that struggle to play in a team battling relegation and shy away as the pressure increases.
Some may have thought the Serbian would fit into that category, but he proved his worth to the team and there will now be a number of supporters hoping that he can finish the season strongly.
Aside from his two goals, Tadic had an impact in both halves of the pitch and was clearly the best player on the park.
He completed three dribbles and ended the match with a pass success rate of 89%, which is very impressive considering he had the ball in advanced areas.
The 29-year-old looked after possession well and made five key passes to influence the match.
It may be a cliché, but every player in a team battling relegation-threatened team needs to show fight and desire first and foremost.
That may be the minimum requirement, but it is a requirement nonetheless and Tadic gave his all for the team. He covered a lot of ground and made two tackles to lead the defensive effort from the front.
Tadic has had better seasons in England and he, alongside the rest of the squad, will feel that he could have contributed more over the course of the season.
However, those thoughts need to go to the back of the head and the focus needs to be on the task at hand.
It won’t be easy for Southampton to survive in the division, but if they are to be successful, their 29-year-old creative midfielder will need to deliver more performances like the one against Bournemouth.