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.
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.
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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