It’s been a summer of consolidation for the Saints after booking their return to the cash cow of the top flight. They’ve so far managed to hold on the main players responsible for getting promotion and they’ve made some interesting moves in the transfer market. They’ve paid big money for Jay Rodriguez, but the fee could end up looking very good value if the highly-rated youngster delivers on his potential. Getting Steven Davis for free from Rangers Old Co. is less of a risk and less spectacular but it brings more depth to an already useful squad. It’s not been a bad close-season.
Something to be positive about
There was a real swagger to Southampton’s play last season and they should approach their return to the top flight feeling confident. Swansea and Norwich have shown that trying to play football isn’t a recipe for relegation and the Saints are cut from a similar cloth to last year’s promoted teams. Back to back promotions have already made Nigel Adkins a hero at St Mary’s and although it’s his first bite of the top flight cherry, he’s also unlikely to be overwhelmed by the step up. He has held on to his key players, added a couple of interesting acquisitions (see below) and overall, the squad looks capable of survival.
Something to be a bit worried about
They face a very tough start to the campaign. Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal are amongst the opponents in first four weeks of the season and mixed with a few other less high profile, but equally tricky games in September and October, they may find points hard to come by early on. There’s no shame in it, but a poor start would seriously undermine the players’ confidence and the manager’s vision. If they lose faith in their approach, they could find themselves in trouble – the ‘thinking Terry Connor is a decent managerial option’ kind of trouble.
An optimistic season bet
Southampton to be the Top Promoted Team at 15/8. Granted that might just mean they finish third from bottom and still get relegated, but as long as it’s ahead of West Ham and Reading, you’ll win your bet and at the end of the day, isn’t that really all that matters?
A more realistic season bet
It’s all about survival and it can be done. The Saints are 4/7 to avoid relegation and that would constitute a successful season.
Jay Rodriguez (Burnley, £7m)
Steven Davis (Rangers, free)
Paulo Gazzaniga (Gillingham, undisclosed)
Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace)
Packing Their Bags
David Connolly (released)
Lee Holmes (Preston)
Ryan Doble (released)
Aaron Martin (Crystal Palace, loan)
Dan Harding (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed)