THE BLOG

Four Reasons Behind Southampton's Resurgence in 2014/15

03/10/2014 16:07 BST | Updated 03/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Southampton finished eighth in the Premier League in 2013/14, the club's highest ever finish in the post-1992 era, coming just three short years after the Saints were in English football's third tier.

A summer of change that saw the manager and several key players sold then left the club among the favourites for relegation ahead of the new campaign.

However, Southampton have not only started the 2014/15 season in good form, they have begun even better than they did 12 months ago.

On the surface it seems surprising, but on closer inspection it's not hard to see why this excellently run club are doing as well as they are.

4. Getting the right manager

It became apparent that manager Mauricio Pochettino would be moving quite soon after last season had finished. Before the end of May the Argentine had been unveiled at Tottenham, leaving the Saints needing a new boss of their own.

At that point, it was important that the club took time to consider the options and didn't rush into a panic led appointment. But conversely it was also vital that the process didn't take too long so that the new man could settle and prepare in plenty of time before the new season kicked off.

Ronald Koeman was confirmed in the post by the middle of June and there was arguably no better candidate. The Dutchman can draw on a wealth of experience from his time at a number of top clubs across Europe both as a player and manager. He is clear and focused, while his preference for technical development suits the club and the playing squad well.

3. Keeping the irreplaceables

The Saints may have sold close to £100million worth of talent over the summer, but as good and important as the likes of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Rickie Lambert et al were last season, they were always individuals that were replaceable. Of course, the club fought to keep them, but in the end they accepted those players would move on and, after making sure the maximum fees were received, were ultimately happy to let it happen.

However, there was one player in particular that Koeman and the board simply refused to let leave, despite clear interest from several Premier League clubs. Morgan Schneiderlin was the one that seemed to be judged as irreplaceable. It was more important that he, more so than anyone else, be kept on-side and his form at the start of the season has been testament to that.

Centre-back and new club captain Jose Fonte was arguably the other one that couldn't be replaced. The club rejected several reasonably sized offers for the 30-year-old, who has been at St Mary's since 2010 and embodies the club's struggle to return to the top flight from League One.

2. Removing negative influences

As much as keeping those that were too important to replace it was vital that potentially disruptive and negative influences were removed from the dressing room. Big things were expected of Dani Osvaldo when he arrived from Roma last summer, but the Italian was soon in trouble for touchline scraps and training ground bust-ups and was shipped out to Juventus on loan in January.

With all the changes going on this summer, it was vital that the club didn't have his disruptive character back in and around the squad. Sending the striker out on loan again was a smart move, just to keep him away from the developing group.

Much in the same way, it was important that Saphir Taider be let go. The Algerian only joined on loan over the summer and wasn't obviously disruptive in his short spell on the south coast, but it just wasn't working for him. As a result, it made more sense that the club cut short the deal early, rather than trying to force the situation which could potentially have had negative consequences.

1. Intelligent summer signings

The most important part of the Southampton puzzle remained intelligently spending the money that had come in from player sales. It can often be the case that clubs who suddenly have a lot of funds at their disposal can end up buying players for the sake of it, rather than looking at the bigger picture.

Tottenham served as a prime example of that 12 months ago, while Liverpool look as though they could have made similar mistakes this summer. But at St Mary's that did not happen. The club spent the best part of £60m on new players that have all added something to the squad and most of which were direct replacements for those that left.

Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle have hit the ground running since their arrivals from the Eredivisie and filled the void created by the exits of Lallana and Lambert. Solving the goalkeeping problem was a must and Fraser Forster looks to be a shrewd acquisition. Toby Alderweireld and Sadio Mane have already had an impact after joining on transfer deadline day and Florin Gardos has crucially bolstered the defensive options.

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