Southampton are comfortably a top half team. Their problem is much like Everton’s: realistically they’re never going to break the top four, or even the top six in two consecutive seasons. Their League Cup runners-up medal is a nice souvenir of Puel’s time but supporters were less than thrilled with his safety first approach. 8th is roughly where they belong.
15 points and 25 goal difference is a long way off Europe. Cue Pellegrino.
Unusually for Southampton they had the joint lowest scoring top scorer (Austin with 7). Only five teams scored less than them, three of which got relegated. They did however have a solid defence and kept 14 clean sheets.
The Saints made the most crosses, which is odd given the lack of a target man and Romeu became somewhat of a cult hero with the 3rd most tackles, 10th most passes and 12th most touches in the entire league.
It will be about a style of play, reigniting the crowd at St. Mary’s. There’s no European football so the focus will be pushing for Europe, which I don’t see them achieving, and trying to get to another cup final.
Pellegrino’s main task is getting the best out of last season’s under-performers and upping the level of those not quite fulfilling their potential – with Tadic and Ward-Prowse an example of each.
Don’t expect them to raid Alaves because they’re not that good. They could well need a whole new back four if Van Dijk and Bertrand leave, as Martina and Caceres have already been released. They’ll likely look into the availability of Chambers, as well as Jones and Smalling at United.
Further forward it looks like Vietto is close to joining, which could spell the end for Long. It could be 4-4-2 next season and an attack with Redmond, Austin, Gabbiadini and Vietto could be very entertaining.