Another English Premier League season is in the books, which means it’s time for everyone’s favorite offseason activity: speculation! As we know, silly season will soon officially be upon us as clubs from all over the world attempt to improve their squad for the upcoming campaigna��whether through addition by subtraction or the more conventional route: spending that sweet, sweet Premier League money.
Over the next couple months we’ll go through each EPL side, identifying their strengths and weaknesses while pointing out which player(s) they likely cannot afford to lose. Will the names always be notable? Perhaps not, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
It hasn’t always been easy for the Saints of Southampton, but when Mauricio Pochettino led the club to an eighth-place finish with 56 points in 2013, it was just the beginning. That can be held in both a positive and negative light, however.
For countless years, Southampton has had an excellent youth academy. They’ve produced numerous notable talents along the way, plenty of whom have helped them develop a strong standing in the English Premier League recently. But then they sell, because Southampton is still looked at as a small club or a stepping stone.
Ronald Koeman took over in 2014 when Pochettino departed to Tottenham Hotspur, and in his first season led the Saints to a seventh-place finish with a club-record 60 points. They entered into Europa League qualification, but couldn’t get past the second round playoff. As for their league form in 2015, Koeman’s squad had a forgettable first half of the season. All that went away when Southampton cruised to sixth in the league in the second half, breaking their previous record for points yet again.
Now they’ve qualified for the Europa League group stages, which marked another feat. It’s the first time in club history they’ve done so. So what does the summer hold? Is it another window of selling their best? Well, it could be even worse than that.
Is Ronald Koeman Next To Go?
Though they haven’t played like it in recent seasons, Everton is a bigger club than Southampton. Despite consecutive 11th place finishes in the past two seasons, Everton is a bigger club than Southampton. Is Everton the next club for current Saints boss Ronald Koeman? Or, will he wait for an ever better opportunity to come along?
Many thought Southampton would fade a little when Pochettino left, but the Saints have only become stronger under his watch. But again, is Southampton simply a stepping stone? Well…
Stop Selling Everyone
When the calendar hit July 15, 2015, the club had sold A?135.5 million worth of talent within 12 months. And no, they didn’t have a Gareth Bale to sell for a ludicrous fee. Not anymore, anyway. Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin went to Manchester United. Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert, and Nathaniel Clyne went to Liverpool. Calum Chambers went to Arsenal, and Jack Cork went to Swansea City.
Will it ever end?
Multiple clubs (including Liverpool again) are rumored to be monitoring goal-scorers Shane Long and Sadio ManA�a��though the latter would most definitely come at an inflated price. Not only is ManA� still just 24 years old, but Southampton are playing European football now. They don’t have to sell everybody anymore. They should hold off on doing so for as long as possible. But if Koeman goes, who knows?
In some instances, it might be out of their control. Such is the case with holding midfielder and overall powerhouse Victor Wanyama. The 24-year-old allegedly wanted a move last summer, but agreed to stay one more season under the condition that he could look to play elsewhere the following year.
The biggest downside to all of Southampton’s selling is that it almost always occurs within the Premier League. They might not be selling to genuine rivals, but they are almost assuredly selling them to bigger and better clubs, making the competition directly above them even stronger while making it more difficult on themselves to take the next step.
If Southampton want to remain a�?quietly successfula�?, they have to minimize the damage. They can’t undergo another summer like 2014. They made it out then in one piece, but that’s not something you can bank on every time.
The Saints are in Europe again. Not only did they finish just three points back of United, but they also topped clubs like West Ham, Liverpool, and Chelsea en route to their best EPL season in club history. They’ve improved in three consecutive seasons.
With Leicester City winning the league and the likes of Southampton showing that the Foxes aren’t the only small club that should be taken seriously, the last couple seasons in England have been a breath of fresh air.
The big question is: If another summer exodus is upon them, will it all go stale? Or, will Southampton start putting their foot down?
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