Southampton had an excellent season when many doubted the club’s ability to cope with losing their manager and so many key players over the summer. But Ronald Koeman and his foreign imports did brilliantly last season and despite more key players leaving this summer, the squad is still extremely strong.
Last Season: Premier League (7th)
Manager: Ronald Koeman
GKs: Kelvin Davis, Maarten Stekelenburg, Paulo Gazzaniga, Fraser Forster
DFs: Cedric Soares, Maya Yoshida, Florin Gardos, Jose Fonte, Cuco Martina, Ryan Bertrand, Jason McCarthy, Matt Targett, Steven Caulker
MFs: Jordy Clasie, Steven Davies, Saido Mane, Dusan Tadic, Victor Wanyama, James Ward-Prowse, Harrison Reed, Gaston Ramirez, Lloyd Isgrove, Sam McQueen
FWs: Shane Long, Jay Rodriguez, Graziano Pelle, Juanmi
In: Juanmi (Malaga), Cedric Soares (Sporting Lisbon), Cuco Martina (FC Twente), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Maarten Stekelenburg (Monaco – Loan), Steven Caulker (QPR – Loan)
Out: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth), Cody Cropper (MK Dons), Jos Hooiveld (AIK), Omar Rowe (Released), Jake Sinclair (Released), Dani Osvaldo (FC Porto), Sam Gallagher (MK Dons – Loan), Jack Stephens (Middlesbrough), Jordan Turnbull (Swindon Town)
First Six: Newcastle United (A), Everton (H), Watford (A), Norwich City (H), West Brom (A), Manchester United (H)
Likely Lineup: (4-2-3-1) Stekelenburg – Cedric, Fonte, Caulker, Targett – Clasie, Wanyama – Long, Ward-Prowse, Mane – Pelle
A word from…Dave Watson
On his arrival at the club To be honest it was a fantastic opportunity, it was new for everyone, we were moving into a new facility with a lot of new staff and that was a fresh and exciting challenge for me and everyone else.
On influences I think all your experiences, good and bad, make you what you are as a coach. Obviously for me, finishing early and getting a bad injury made me make sure I try and avoid that kind of thing at all costs but you’re more influenced by the coaches you had yourself rather than your own playing career.
People who had an influence on my career, the playing career was great and players now empathise with that and you build relationships from that but you are more influenced by the people who guided you as a player.
On research I think everyone starts on a level playing field, last year I joined and they had a goalkeeping department in place and you give everyone a fair opportunity. But we decided as a club we needed a new goalkeeper and that becomes my responsibility.
I’d worked with Fraser [Forster] with the international team and that made the decision a little bit easier because I knew the qualities he could bring to the Premier League. The reality is ultimately the final decision lies with the manager but I was involved in the process again this summer because I have that responsibility to fill these positions.
It’s been refreshing working with Maarten [Stekelenburg], he’s a great guy and got on really well with the other goalkeepers and the rest of the players. He’s been prepared to listen and learn at 32 years of age, he’s been open-minded so for me as a coach that’s fantastic to have someone still willing to develop. For someone at that age and the career he’s had it would been easy not to do that.
On team bonding I don’t think the importance of pre-season trips can be underestimated, especially when we’ve got a few new players to integrate, they get to know the staff and how the club works.
It’s about getting the players fit but it’s certainly about getting that team bond too, to have everyone pulling in the right direction is important in itself.
On new players I’m not just responsible for the goalkeepers, I work with the analysts on a daily basis, looking at the opposition and their strikers and getting to know players, especially with foreign sides like Vitesse.
We’ve got to be ready for anything teams can throw at us, it’s a lengthy process but hopefully when we give that information to the team we’re given them relevant information and there are no surprises when the match comes around. We’re getting into the swing of things now and the challenges are being prepared to play on Thursday nights and then perform on a Sunday too, they’re our challenges this season.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: 7th should be about Southampton’s level again this season. Liverpool have strengthened and it’s hard to see them toppling anyone else. Stoke, West Ham and co have strengthened but Koeman is controlling a steady ship.
Key Player: Jose Fonte – Southampton’s success last season was based on a solid defence, and Fonte has been excellent whether his partner was Dejan Lovren or Toby Aldeweireld. He’s the one who hasn’t yet been snared away and Saints fans will be glad of that.
One to Watch: Jordy Clasie – Southampton always do a good job of replacing players and Clasie has come in to take Morgan Schneiderlin’s spot. He played at the 2014 World Cup for Netherlands and comes in with a big reputation and plenty of talent.