Southampton - Will Feel Good Factor Remain?
Markus Liebherr arrived at St Mary's and got a rousing welcome as we greeted him for the very first time.
Nicola Cortese was installed as Chairman and Alan Pardew became the manager that was going to see us move back up to the CCC, as we began our recovery.
We were told that a five year plan was being implemented, and this plan was for us to be back in the Premier League within the five years.
It is all very good saying these things to us the downtrodden fans who had suffered recently as the club headed downwards.
Added to the insecurities of our failures was the casual remark that the club would spend according to it's cloth.
Income would decree the amount of finance spent on our team after the initial expenditure. This did not sound as though we would be throwing much money away to procure the necessary promotions.
The late arrival of a buyer and manager delayed the chance to purchase players. This meant we had to start the season with the remains of the relegated CCC side.
Needless to say the season started very poorly. The 10 point deduction gave us a handicap to start with but this was nothing in comparison to the state of our team.
Our first game was at home to Millwall and we gained a hard fought draw which on paper didn't seem too bad.
The points handicap was eventually overcome as the team was changed drastically by Ala Pardew. In the end it turns out that our slow start had more to do with our failure to reach the play-offs than the points handicap inflicted upon us.
The biggest signings for us last season were probably Rickie Lambert and Jose Fonte. The necessary goals were scored by our goal machine and once settled in Jose improved our back-line no-end.
Dan Harding had a bloody good season for us and as a free signing was a real bargain.
Radhi Jaidi was a huge factor in us actually shoring up our weak defence before Fonte arrived.
Adam Lallana had a magnificent season for us and banged in 20 goals as a midfielder. New record for his position and one which will probably stay for a while.
Dean Hammond was a bit hit and miss for me last season. He was played as a box to box player but I can see him being better as a holding midfielder. He loves tackling and is quicker than Paul Wotton.
Morgan Schneiderlin had by far his best season for us as he started growing into his body. He has added tackling to his game but I feel he would be much more of a threat for us if he could be allowed more freedom.
Let him play in a more advanced position and keep Hammond as the holding player. I feel this single switch would make us a far more potent force next time around.
Jason Puncheon had some good games for us and working with Lallana was exciting as they complemented each other. Switching wings gives so many more options than we have had previously.
Graeme Murty had a good start for us and then got injured. We missed his authorative play on the right flank as he was never completely fit after. Thomas and James both played in the right back spot but neither could claim it for their own.
This is the one position which we have to find a good player to complement the rest of the side.
So last season was slightly disappointing in that we failed to make the play-offs. That is until you go over the results as they happened.
If you take away the first ten games of the season where we struggled, the points garnered would have been those of a team gaining automatic promotion.
So, yes the point deduction hurt us but the biggest amount of damage was done by the Pinnacle group.
Pinnacle delayed the arrival of our saviour by approximately a month. This time lost meant we had no pre-season with new players bedding in.
Instead we had to watch helplessly as AP brought in the players he did to kick start our revival. The fact that we came so close to reaching the pinnacle(sorry) of our ambitions has to be a good sign for this season.
We have released a lot of fringe players and a couple of regular team players. Wayne Thomas gave his all and though limited in his skills always tried his best.
Lloyd James at times threatened to become a useful team player but overall I feel it is probably the right decision in letting him go.
Oxlade-chamberlain could be a very good prospect for us as he showed glimpses in his little cameos.
Antonio and Papa Waigo both did a lot for our club. Antonio would be welcomed with open arms if he was to return.
Jon Otsemobor was a disappointment. The lad has talent and speed to burn but he has a mental awareness problem. Too many times I would see him caught out because he was switched off and not awake.
Lee Barnard had a slow start and it didn't help that both him and Lambert are a little bit on the slow side. He came good though and I am looking forward to him and Ricky competing to be top scorer this season.
So what do I expect to see this season coming
One thing is for sure. I do not expect to see us trailing behind everybody else at the start of the season. We have a very interesting start to the season and this could dictate to others how we will do overall.
We start with Plymouth and they will also be hoping to be up near the top as the season unfolds. They had a bad start last season and improved a lot towards the close of play.
Though they were relegated they appear on paper to have a strong team. They will give us a good battle to start off with.
Then we have Bournemouth in a cup game. This is a game our neighbours will be desperate to finish off with them being victorious. This is the big one for most of their fans and one which will also prove a hard game to win on paper.
Our first away match is at MK Dons and they will really be thirsting for our blood. Four times we played them last season and we won every game we played.
Another hard game is expected but hopefully a repeat of last season will be on the cards.
This season with the new signings which Alan Pardew will bring, in I am very hopeful that we are going places.
I hope for automatic promotion and will be very disappointed if we fail to gain one of those places. The minimum requirement this season will be a play-off place and promotion.
Very attainable as we don't need major surgery in the way we did last season. The side as it is almost picks itself as we dream of a future with high prospects.
Right now it is darned good being a Saint.
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