It’s been nothing short of an interesting summer for Southampton FC. After finishing off a fantastic 2013/14 season in the Barclay’s Premier League which saw them finish in 8th place, the future quickly went from bright to rather frightening. It all began with the departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose high pressing game won the hearts of his players, the fans, and unfortunately the eye of Tottenham’s Daniel Levy. After his departure, rumors began to swirl around almost every single player on the squad and the ‘mass exodus’ of a talented squad began before a ball was ever kicked at the World Cup.
Rickie Lambert sealed a move to his boyhood club Liverpool, which definitely caused feelings of sadness for Saints fans, but one that they couldn’t ever begin to begrudge the striker for. The same could not be said for captain Adam Lallana however; whose move to Liverpool was much more negatively received by the fans, due to having signed a new 5 year contract just over a year ago and gave the fans this heartfelt message. Then Manchester United shelled out a massive deal for teenage left back Luke Shaw and moves for Dejan Lovren, and Calum Chambers have followed suit over the course of the past few months. It seemed that once the floodgates opened, they just wouldn’t stop. Just about every day a new article would come out linking a Saints player to another team around England. But in the mixture of all of this madness some positive things happened, some things which can give Saints fans hope moving into the new season.
On June 16, Southampton announced that they had appointed a new manager in the form of the prolific Barcelona and Netherlands center back, Ronald Koeman. Since joining the club, Koeman has been able to spend the transfer funds earned from all of the player sales, which has amassed to nearly £90 million. Some of the players that he has brought in have been able to fit directly into the holes left by the exodus of players: Italian striker Graziano Pelle joined from Koeman’s former club Feyenoord and offers a goal-scoring threat. He posted fantastic numbers in the Eredivisie (69 in 159 appearances) and is being seen as a suitable replacement for Rickie Lambert, although we’ve seen Jozy Altidore struggle to adapt to the English game after playing so well in the Dutch league. Serbian winger Dusan Tadic was purchased from FC Twente for a reported £11 million, and should provide adequate replacement for the departed Adam Lallana.
To fill the void at left back, Koeman worked a loan deal for Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand but will perhaps also give a few opportunities to the next product of Southampton’s famed academy, Matt Targett. Yet another player was loaned in, in the form of Inter Milan’s young midfielder Saphir Taider. And the most recent purchase by the Dutchman came in the form of England goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who was purchased earlier this week from Celtic. Having both Forster and Artur Boruc will provide two good options, which was not the case last year when Boruc missed a portion of the season with injury and the young Paulo Gazzaniga had to fill in and had his inexperience exposed numerous times.