We at 32 Flags are previewing every team in the English Premier League, two teams a day until the beginning of the season. Get ready as we preview your favorite team or maybe we can help you pick a team to root for if you are undecided so far. Today, we’re covering Southampton.
Founded – 1885
Last Year Position – 8th place
Transfers In (As of 8/11) – Ryan Bertrand (Loan), Fraser Forster, Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic, Saphir Taider (Loan)
Transfers Out (As of 8/11) – Lee Barnard, Calum Chambers, Danny Fox, Guly, Lloyd Isgrove (Loan), Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Dani Osvaldo (Loan), Andy Robinson (Loan), Luke Shaw, Jack Stephens (Loan)
Projected Finish (Voted among 32 Flags staff) – 12th place
Rivalries – Rivalry with Portsmouth, Interesting games: Liverpool (Aug 17 and Feb 21) and Tottenham (Oct 4 and April 25)
Famous Supporters – Saints fans help me. I did a search and could only really find Coldplay’s drummer and model Lucy Pinder. Anybody else?
This summer has not been kind to Southampton. Everybody’s second team for the last two seasons has become everybody’s favorite player supermarket, with five of their most talented players already having been cherry-picked by larger clubs, including club captain Adam Lallana. This is without even mentioning that their inspirational manager, Mauricio Pochettino, has also left for Tottenham. Also, a few other important players, such as Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez, have been linked to follow their former teammates out the door. Currently, Southampton are a club in turmoil, with a lot of the bickering being played out right in front of the media. It’s a shame because prior to this season, Southampton was a club with a plan and trajectory up the table. They were incredibly well run from the owner’s box, had a great manager, and an excellent squad of players who would run through a brick wall for the club. All of that has changed, however, with the structural change inside the club with Nicola Cortese’s departure, which prompted Pochettino’s decision to leave as well. This is all exacerbated by Katharina Liebherr’s attitude of everybody has a price tag. I’m not saying that she doesn’t have the club’s best interest at heart, but I’m certainly thinking it very loudly and typing it.
So the question is, where will Southampton place this season? Well, without many of their best players, it will be hard to do as well as they did last season. That much is certain. It will take a managerial masterclass from Roger Koeman, Southampton’s new manager, to get close to the 8th place finish they managed under Pochettino. Remember, that squad was a united squad, all fighting and pushing towards the same goal. These players had all been together for a long time, some had even been with the club while they toiled in the 2nd division. That spirit is largely lost now. It will be interesting to see what pieces Koeman picks up before the start of the season, and, by all accounts, Dusan Tadic looks to be a great pickup. This is all compounded by the fact that Southampton have a relatively easily opening schedule, barring the opening game against Liverpool, that could give Southampton a great bit of momentum going deeper into the season. Late November, December, and January look to be particularly brutal for them, however, with 7 of the 10 fixtures against teams that are expected to finish in the top 7 of the table. They will need every point they can grab to survive that stretch. All in all, there is still enough quality in this team to avoid relegation, but it will be a scary ride for a bit. Anything above 12th place should be seen as a bonus to Southampton this season, but it shouldn’t cover up the level of betrayal their fans will feel by an ownership that has seemingly lost it’s ambition and drive since the death of Markus Liebherr, Kathatrina’s father, who brought about the team we saw last season, and the team we saw stripped apart this summer.