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Is this why Southampton fans can remain optimistic even after Ronald Koeman’s departure?

The Boot Room

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It is quickly becoming a habit down at Southampton that the summer is a time to dread for the fans.

A mass exodus in the summer of 2014 saw the likes of Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and previous manager; Mauricio Pochettino, jump ship, and in came Ronald Koeman for the first of two seasons rebuilding.

The Dutchman was fantastic in the transfer market, bringing in the likes of Fraser Forster, Toby Alderweireld, Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle. These signings helped to take Southampton to seventh place in the Premier League during the 2014/2015, which resulted in the Saints qualifying for the Europa League.

The summer of 2015 brought some more departures as Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne and Alderweireld departed, but Cedric Soares, Jordy Clasie and the fantastic Virgil Van Dijk arrived.

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In the 2015/16 campaign, the Saints finished sixth in the Premier League, above the likes of Liverpool, West Ham United and Chelsea, managing to accrue their highest ever Premier League points tally in the process.

Europa League football awaits Southampton once again but Ronald Koeman has seemingly been tempted by a sizeable transfer kitty at the Toffees, while Southampton are set to receive around £5 million in compensation.

Koeman has chosen to abandon his work over the last two seasons, but one positive is Southampton are in an extremely strong position to appoint yet another exciting manager.

It seems deceiving towards Saints fans that Koeman announced three weeks ago that he would honour the remaining year of his contract, but has displayed a monumental U-turn, comparable to that of Fabian Delph when the Manchester City midfielder went back on his word to Villa fans, leaving for The Etihad only days after declaring his desire to stay in the Midlands.

Southampton are in an extremely strong position for the future, despite players such as Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane being linked with a move away. The club are able to boast a fantastic youth system and any manager coming in will have the intriguing task of developing some more exciting young talent.

There is a reason why Southampton are being linked with managers such as Manuel Pellegrini and Frank De Boer who both possess very strong CVs.

A Europa League journey and a very strong squad of players give the Saints the opportunity to pursue such big names. Hopefully, appointing a manager soon will give the club a better opportunity to hold onto their prized assets.

Sadio Mane’s relationship with Ronald Koeman has been strained since the Senegalese international was late to a team meeting and was therefore dropped from the side that lost 1-0 away to Norwich back in January. The 24-year-old forward may see this is as an opportunity to make a fresh start under a new manager on the south-coast.

Victor Wanyama looks almost certain to leave the club, but with plenty of money to spend and Europa League football as an appeal, the Saints should be able to find a capable replacement.

There has been panic over the last two weeks amongst fans at Southampton because another exciting coach (one who boasts the highest win percentage of any Saints manager in Premier League history – 47%) has chosen to depart. Despite this though, there is still plenty of reason for optimism for the fans because the board already have experience of dealing with these daunting situations.

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Koeman leaving does not seem to have the threat of 2014, and there is a very capable board at the club to assess their options and bring in a quality manager. Southampton’s Executive Director; Les Reed, and the rest of the board should have earned the trust of the fans based on what they have managed to achieve under their stewardship over the last two seasons.

Admittedly, some of the frustration of the fans is that the club are not perhaps willing to spend a large amount in transfer window but that will be important in persuading one of the potential suitors to go to St Mary’s.

It is not all doom and gloom at Southampton and if the board can bring in a strong manager who wants to develop youth players, whilst holding onto most of their star players, then there is no reason why next season can’t be successful one both in the league and in Europe.


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English Premier League

One winner and loser from Southampton’s pre-season campaign

The Saints go marching into a new campaign under Mark Hughes.

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Southampton are hoping for a much more stable season this term under Mark Hughes, after a disappointing campaign last year.

The Saints have spent this summer to draft in the likes of Jannik Vestergaard and Mohamed Elyounoussi, while a Deadline Day deal was completed yesterday for the services of Danny Ings on loan from Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Here, we have identified one winner and one loser from the club’s pre-season campaign.

Winner: Danny Ings

It may seem strange that the man set to benefit most from pre-season is a player who is yet to kick a ball for Southampton but that is the case for Danny Ings, after it became clear the Saints desperately need an attacking boost.

(Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)

Before the arrival of the former Burnley man, Southampton looked extremely toothless in the final third and were left crying out for a player to provide an impact – which may work in Ings’ favour, as he’s looking to get his career back-on-track after numerous injury problems during his spell at Anfield.

That is a concern for Southampton, as there is no guarantees he will remain fit, which could leave fans praying throughout the campaign.

“The two clubs obviously had to come to an arrangement where they were comfortable with the deal on offer and in the end we got to the point where it was a win win situation for both clubs and, more importantly, for Danny as well, because he’s come to a club he’s clearly got a lot of affection for and maybe a point to prove.”

– Hughes on the Deadline Day capture of Ings.

Loser: Wesley Hoedt

A regular in defence throughout pre-season, Wesley Hoedt was arguably the worst performer of the lot for Southampton and is leaves Mark Hughes with a major decision to make ahead of tomorrow’s opening clash against Burnley.

Many fans are calling for Ryan Bertrand to play centrally, providing more opportunities for Matt Targett down the left side, and that could materialise after he remained at the club on Deadline Day despite continued interest from Fulham.

The signing of Vestergaard could also lead to decreased opportunities for the Dutch defender, who played 28 matches for the Saints last term.

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Southampton

Fulham’s Joe Bryan hijack surely means Matt Targett will stay at Southampton

The left-back spent the end of last season on loan at Fulham.

Mathew Nash

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Fulham have hijacked a move for Bristol City left-back Joe Bryan. It appeared the player was on his way to Aston Villa in a £6 million deal. However, as reported by Sky Sports, Fulham’s 11th hour move has left Aston Villa gutted and Bryan on the cusp of Premier League football.

But whilst Aston Villa may be left devastated by the decision of Bryan, it will be music to the ears for Southampton.

This summer the Saints have been working hard to keep Matt Targett at the club. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Fulham and thrived at Craven Cottage. The 22-year-old is therefore in Mark Hughes plans for the upcoming season, but Fulham have been tempting them with offers all summer.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Most recently, as reported by the Mirror, Fulham were willing to pay around £15 million for the player.

Eventually, Southampton would have found it hard to keep him. But the England under-21 international is now unlikely to head to Fulham with Bryan on his way to the Cottage.

Next season the young Southampton talent will be expected to battle it out with Ryan Bertrand for the number one left-back spot. Indeed, he could even find himself in a back-three if he performs like he did for Fulham last term.

And it looks like it might work out for all parties with another Southampton left-back, Sam McQueen, set to join Bristol City as Bryan’s replacement.

Southampton will now need to ensure they use Targett sensibly, as he could become a major asset to the club in the years to come.

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English Premier League

Five ins and outs Southampton could complete on Deadline Day

Southampton could be set for a busy day.

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Mark Hughes faces a tough ask at Southampton this season as the club looks to bounce back from a disappointing campaign last term.

The Saints have landed impressive signings that include Mohamed Elyounoussi and Jannik Vestergaard this summer but further deals could be on the horizon on Deadline Day, concerning both ins and outs.

Here, we have identified five pieces of business Southampton could complete before the 5pm deadline.

Matt Targett to Fulham

With Ryan Bertrand well established as first choice at Southampton, speculation has circulated for a while concerning Matt Targett after his successful stint on loan with Fulham in the second half of last season – and the Cottagers want a permanent deal.

(Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)

TeamTalk states Fulham have lodged an improved bid of around £14m to bring the 23-year-old full-back to Craven Cottage and will push to complete a deal before the deadline, with Southampton potentially open to offers.

Targett came through the youth ranks on the south coast and has made 27 Premier League appearances.

Stanislav Lobotka: Celta Vigo

A late swoop for Celta Vigo midfielder Stanislav Lobotka is said to be on the table from Southampton, who are keen to bolster their ranks in the middle of the park amidst speculation suggesting that exits could be on the cards.

The Times states Southampton have made an approach worth around £20m for the Slovakia international, also said to be a target for Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain, with the LaLiga side rejecting the bid and demanding any party matches his release clause.

According to The Evening Standard, that figure stands at £31m.

James Ward-Prowse to Watford

Southampton could be tempted to cash in on James Ward-Prowse on Deadline Day amidst interest from Watford, with Mark Hughes already having the likes of Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina to choose from in central midfield.

(Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)

The Sun states Javi Gracia’s Watford have made an approach worth around £10m for Ward-Prowse, while Sky Sports claim the offer from the Hornets is a loan deal – although Southampton seem reluctant to approve a departure.

23-year-old Ward-Prowse made 30 appearances for the Saints last term, scoring three goals and contributing three assists.

Martin Montoya: Valencia

Southampton are eyeing a Deadline Day move for Valencia’s former Barcelona defender Martin Montoya, according to reports, as Mark Hughes looks to bolster his defensive ranks with the services of the right-back.

FootballInsider states both Southampton and Brighton are vying for the services of the 27-year-old, who has fallen down the pecking order at the Champions League side following their capture of Cristiano Piccini.

Valencia are happy to listen to offers but time is running out and Real Betis hold an advantage in negotiations, as they can discuss a deal until the end of August.

Sam McQueen leaving on loan

A deal that is likely to hinge heavily on whether Matt Targett remains at Southampton today or returns to Fulham, it has been reported that Bristol City are keen to land Sam McQueen from the Saints as a replacement for Joe Bryan.

That’s according to FootballInsider, who state the Robins want a replacement for Bryan who, in a late twist, is set to snub an approach from Aston Villa in order to seal a move to Fulham – which could then end the Cottagers’ interest in Targett.

With the Football League’s loan window not closing until the end of August, Bristol still have plenty of time to negotiate a deal.

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