Southampton: A Season Review

Southampton: A Season Review

After earning promotion into the Premier League in 2011-2012, Southampton were able to stay in the Premier League in 2012-2013.  They were hoping to push on in 2013-2014 and help re-establish themselves as a Premier League club.  The Saints were able to exceed all expectations this season with their eighth place finish.

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Stand out players and results

Southampton had a laundry list of stand-out players this season, including two players – who both came through their academy – named to the PFA Team of the Year, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.  Lallana finished with nine goals, six assists and 71 chances created, the seventh most in the league.  Shaw has established himself, becoming one of the top left backs in the league and has earned himself a seat on the plane to Brazil to the World Cup.

Rickie Lambert also earned himself a plane ticket with another outstanding season.  Lambert scored 13 goals and had 10 assists, joint third in the league for assists.  Jay Rodriguez likely would have made the plane if not for a late injury, but Rodriguez may have made more progress from last season to this season than any other Southampton player.  Rodriguez went from six league goals last season to 15 league goals this season in fewer appearances.  Dejan Lovren was also a stand-out in the Saints back line as he helped Southampton tighten up at the back. Between the improved defence and the change in system after a coaching change, the Southampton defence went from conceding 60 goals last season to 46 this season.

Southampton’s biggest win had to be their early season victory against Liverpool. Southampton were the only team not named Chelsea to win at Anfield in all competitions in 2013-2014, albeit this was before Luis Suarez came back from his early season suspension.  Their only other win against the top five was their comprehensive late season victory over Everton. While both goals were own goals, Southampton had a comprehensive victory over Everton all but ending the Toffees’ top four hopes.

Regrets and Disappointments

There aren’t too many disappointments when you finish eighth in only your second season in the Premier League.  The only real disappointment was in the FA Cup.  Mauricio Pochettino rotated some of his players resulting in a 1-0 loss to Sunderland. With safety all but secured at that time, it would have been nice to see Southampton go all out and try to win a cup.  The real regret in the season was the loss of form in December.  After rising to third on November ninth, the Saints won only one of their next nine.  Much of this loss of form was due to injuries of key personnel like Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama.  After that run of form, Southampton never rose higher than eighth in the table.  The inability to keep that preseason form is the only regret.  Although, it would have been unrealistic for them to finish in the top five. or top six.

Summer Objectives

The first job for Southampton in the summer is to keep as many people from leaving as possible.  The vultures have already started to circle with rumoured bids from Liverpool for Adam Lallana and Manchester United for Luke Shaw.  There are also rumours that Tottenham are after Mauricio Pochettino after sacking Tim Sherwood.  The main goal for the Saints will be to keep their manager and their top players.  After that, they will need to address the depth in the team.

The absence of Jay Rodriguez has shown they need another goalscorer, preferably a striker as Rickie Lambert is ageing.  They will also be looking at a third choice centre back.  When either Dejan Lovren or Jose Fonte were out through injury the defence had problems.  Neither Jos Hooiveld nor Maya Yoshida have proven themselves as dependable third choice centre backs for a team pushing for the top six.  They will also look to try to replace any players that they lose in the summer.

Southampton can look at the 2013-2014 as nothing less than a complete success.  They played football that was praised throughout the country with Pochettino’s system balancing nice flowing football as well as solidity in defence.  Southampton have continued to use their youth system showing they have one of the best in the country.  Not only have they had stars like Lallana and Shaw come through, but also promising youngsters like Sam Gallagher, James Ward-Prowse, and Callum Chambers. Southampton have had an amazing season and they have done it “the right way”.  Whether they will be able to push on from this kind of season is yet to be determined, but people can only look at the 2013-2014 Saints season as a flying success.