Southampton: How have they gotten here?

Southampton, fresh of the sale of star Striker Saido Mane to Liverpool for $30 Million are continuing their trend of selling their best, and replacing with those who are somewhat undervalued in the market. Whilst this process is effective in ensuring there is plenty of money in the transfer kitty, it doesn’t always aid the continuation of strong results. Still without a manager, Southampton need to reassess.

Since their return to the Premier League four years ago, Southampton have quickly risen into European football, asserting a style of play upon the league which has seen them become the ‘darlings’ of the league in recent years, although, its safe to say Leicester have taken that mantle now. They play with a lack of fear and fire which has seen them become a desired destination for many a young, talented and or underappreciated footballer.

Paired with a strong youth system, even before they returned to the Premier League were asserting their own mark on the league with stars such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlin all coming from their famed youth system. In their own unique way, Southampton has had an impact on the Premier League long before they returned to it. However, now that they have, there is a somewhat alarming trend which is beginning to follow them.

In recent seasons, there has been a willingness and ultimately an ease with which they are selling their star players. Now, of course, this is far from a problem, but the reality is from the outside looking in, it seems as though Southampton management is all too happy to offload their best players and start over again. In recent years, Southampton have moved on players such as; Luke Shaw, Victor Wanyama, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovern, Nat Clyne, Adam Lallana and now Saido Mane.

With the latter five all moving to Liverpool in the last two and a half seasons, it seems as though Southampton is becoming a feeder club for the rich. Now of course, this is no great issue. Clubs find diamonds in the rough and sell them on all the time, but, where the real consternation arises is when there is seemingly an unwillingness to make big purchases after the sale of a big name.

This leads to the mentality of only being a feeder club continuing and where unrest will continue to grow. Paired with the fact that their managerial situation is less than ideal, the two previous gaffers, Mauricio Ponchentino and Ronald Koeman have worked wonders with the team in a short space of time, only to leave soon after for a new challenge, with Tottenham and Everton respectively.

A way for these ‘smaller’ clubs to break the cycle of ‘inferiority’ that their transfer policy exudes is to respond from big name sales, with big name purchases. It shows a desire to continue to improve, and to be competitive, and frankly, Southampton haven’t shown that. They are conservative with their money and look for bargain buys to help them stay at the level they are currently at.

The purchases of the likes of Cedric, Cuco Martina, Oriol Romeu and Shane Long have been serviceable, but they lack an intent and a killer instinct to take their game and their image to the next level. They serve their purpose, and are relying on their coaching to take them over the final hurdle, and with such managerial turmoil in recent years, that could be an unrealistic expectation going forward. It is resembling a slightly more adventurous approach to that of Arsenal’s in recent seasons.

At the end of the day, Southampton’s transfer policy, is a double edged sword, they are making handsome funds on players they spent dollars to donuts on, but, their spending habits aren’t changing and that leaves a sizable gap between their best and the worst of the team in the upper echelons of the league. They need to reassess what their aspirations are for the club going forward, and it starts with a headstrong coach – Manuel Pellegrini.

Pellegrini possess a no nonsense attitude which sees him command respect from not only his team, but also his rivals, especially key in the transfer market. Having worked with high-priced and talented players before, he knows how to manage their mentalities and egos and ultimately knows how to ingratiate those deemed of a lesser quality into a winning mindset.

He is a target for the top job, but he needs to be the man in the top job before long, otherwise the Saints will lose out on him, and they will lose out on rebuilding the team to where it needs to be to continue competing.