27/03/2015 06:17 GMT | Updated 26/05/2015 06:59 BST

What Comes Next for Southampton FC?

"They'll fall away eventually." The soundtrack to Southampton FC's season.

Nevertheless, late into March and with a run-in that includes five fixtures with teams in the bottom half of the table, it seems that the Saints will defy all of the odds and finish on a par with the likes of Spurs and last season's runners-up, Liverpool.

Cast your mind back to the beginning of the season and this would have seemed almost impossible.

They were tipped for relegation following a fire sale of almost all of last campaign's star performers after previous boss Mauricio Pochettino left for Spurs.

Following the appointment of Ronald Koeman and a number of astute signings, however and Southampton are riding high.

But what happens next for a club that sits on the fringes of a European place, where the only way up is to shatter the glass ceiling currently held intact by four or five of the richest football clubs in the world?

At first glance Southampton now seem to be stuck in a position where realistically the only way is sideways, if not down.

It would be unrealistic for a club of their resources to battle it out with Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea (not to mention Liverpool and Spurs) over a prolonged period of time, so what can Saints fans hope that their club can achieve?

Well first things first, they need to continue making use of what resources they have, by buying sensibly in the summer transfer window.

Southampton's transfer history is incredibly impressive, with players like Morgan Schneiderlin and Rickie Lambert being bought for a pittance in previous years, while Premier League acquisitions such as Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Victor Wanyama have also proved to be immensely shrewd.

While signings are important, the heartbeat of the club throughout the upheaval of last summer was the academy; and this is the very essence of the club.

Time and time again Southampton youth products show that the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were not just a fluke.

While nobody expects an English Lionel Messi to emerge, building a team of hungry youngsters supplemented by imported talent is the blueprint which has allowed Southampton to fight amongst the very best this season.

It seems almost inevitable that the vultures will circle the club once more during the summer, though the club has proved more than once that it is bigger than any player, manager or indeed owner.

Nobody expected Southampton to recover quite as well as they did from the departure of Pochettino and the likes of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw, so even if key personnel are lost again this summer, who is to say that they won't continue to improve again?

For now at least, things are still looking bright on the South Coast and Saints fans can be optimistic about next season. Although their expectations have to grounded in the stark reality of the Premier League, if they can continue to build on what they already have, they may just be able to turn that impenetrable 'top six' into a 'top seven'.

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