Having crashed out of the top-flight way back in 2005 after 27 years at the top Southampton FC hit upon hard times and have had to claw their way back up the slippery football league ladder. But last season The Saints sailed out of the N-Power Championship and back into the Premiership and look to shed their status as a lower-league team this year.
After enjoying a comfortable season in the championship, finishing with an impressive 88 points The Saints are set for a tough time at the top. In their opening match they face the brutally efficient Manchester City, a tough match for any team in the world, that said, any premier league fixture is tough. ‘Easy games’ are certainly a myth this season, if a team isn’t challenging for European qualification they will be fighting tooth and nail to keep out of the relegation scrap.
Manager Nigel Adkins has been busy in the transfer market to boost the standard of the squad. One notable signing is that of 22 year old striker Jay Rodriguez which broke Southampton’s transfer record with a £7million fee. With 21 goals under his belt last season Adkins is hoping that he can pair effectively with Ricky Lambert who has been prolific in the lower leagues in recent years. Indeed one of the big questions is whether or not Lambert will be able to emulate Grant Holt of Norwich’s success in the top flight.
Adkins has also invested in 21 year old full back Nathaniel Clyne from Crystal Palace to strengthen Southampton’s back four. He is hoping that the full back’s impressive pace and desire to get forward will add another dimension to The Saints in attack as well as fortitude in defence. Southampton have also signed the former Rangers captain Steven Davis in central midfield and he could be joined by Celtic’s Beram Kayal should The Saints reach an agreement with the Scottish club.
Despite these signings it is undoubtedly going to be a steep uphill struggle for Southampton, that is not to say that they won’t succeed however! The Saints can draw inspiration from the first season successes of clubs such as Swansea and Norwich City. Adkins will need to make the best possible use of his new signings and hope that his current players can step up to the mark if they are to survive.