Southampton used to be a team who were going places. Their vaunted academy seemed to be producing an unending stream of quality youngsters. Plus their overseas buys were cheap, shrewd and effective.
However, that is the Southampton of old. Last season they were fortunate not to get relegated and they spent the first half of this season flirting with the drop and they haven’t escaped the mire yet. However, they have seen a resurgence of late.
What happened at St Mary’s?
It wasn’t so long ago that Southampton were a staple at the right end of the table. Regularly finishing in the top 8 and making it into the UEFA Cup. In Pochettino and Koeman they had two fantastic coaches who were able to get the most out of a great squad. But as with many clubs who invest heavily in youth, they resorted to selling. There are jokes about Southampton being Liverpool’s feeder club and you can see why. Mane, Van Dijk, Lallana, Clyne, Lovren all moved to Merseyside.
One of the best
Of all the losses Van Dijk was probably the one that hit them hardest. He has gone on to show at Liverpool that he is one of the best defenders in the Premier League at the moment. Perhaps his greatest asset is his ability to command a back line. At Liverpool, he has helped elevate the likes of Gomez and Alexander-Arnold. This is what Southampton lack, a leader to help the younger players reach their potential.
If they had only stuck together
More so than most teams. If you were to put together a Saints team from the past decade it may well be one of the better teams in the league. So let’s look at the Southampton eleven that could have been.
A bit of a forgotten man at the moment but was knocking on the door of being Englands number one and was highly regarded during Southampton’s brighter days.
May well get his United career back on track now Jose has moved on. A quality and energetic fullback.
His career went awry after leaving Southampton but he has had a brilliant international career and at one point was regarded one of the best defenders in the league.
One of the few names to have stayed. The former Chelsea defender has been consistently brilliant for the Saints
Arguably one of the biggest influences on Liverpool’s title push this season.
Injury hampered his Liverpool career but now he has moved we may well see a renaissance from the exciting full-back.
Never really showed his class in his later seasons but has recaptured his form since he moved to Ajax with 12 goals in 18 games.
Hasn’t been able to reach the standards he set at Southampton following his big move to Man Utd. But a classy player for Southampton.
Injuries have undone Lallana in the past two seasons before that he had become a key man for both Klopp and for England with his high-energy pressing style.
They all end up at Liverpool eventually don’t they? “The Ox” took a detour at Arsenal where he was a popular figure for six years.
Is now part of one of the most potent “front threes” in the Premiership alongside Salah and Firmino
Under the management of Ralph Hasenhuttl, they have enjoyed a good run of form. Perhaps Southampton have embraced the idea of New Year, New me? Either way, they have started 2019 in a decent fashion. Cup run aside! Because of the way they have been run they are a popular team and for the sake of the England national side it would be great to see them invest in their youth set-up and re-establish themselves once more.