So 2015-16 Is Underway
Another season is underway and faithful and diehard fans across the country are hoping their team can end up at the top end of the table and have exciting cup runs.
Despite fans optimistic hopes, reality will surely kick in and we will find the same culprits battling it out at the top of the table and the perennial strugglers fighting tooth and nail to avoid the dreaded drop.
Saints have started their league campaign with a less than convincing draw at the home of the Toon army.
It's way too early to draw conclusions, but it was glaringly obvious that Saints miserly defense of last season is sorely missing the departed Clyne and Alderweireld along with the injured Bertrand and Forster. Due to his tender age and lack of top flight experience, Matt Targett's performance should not be judged too hardly from the Newcastle game, but he was found wanting numerous times and frankly looked out of his depth at Premier League level.
Maybe he had an off day and he certainly wasn't helped by his co-defenders, but he will need to show drastic improvement in order to tie down a regular place in the starting line-up. His lack of outright pace was probably his most glaring weakness and that's something that may not be fixable.
On the plus side, despite his understandable rustiness, Jay Rodriguez showed glimpses of his former self and can only improve with more game time.
Wanyama, Mane, Pelle and Long were the only players to to come away with any credit against a mediocre Newcastle side showing the same frailties that dogged them last season. It was definitely a case of two points dropped rather than one away point gained.
What can Saints fans dare to hope for this season?
Any improvement on last seasons seventh placed finishing spot would indicate an excellent season. Couple that with at least one decent domestic cup run and progression into the latter stages of the Europa League would surely satisfy any demanding Saints fan.
Is the type of season described attainable after another mini exodus of Saints best players in critical positions, together with the long term absence of Forster in goal? Forever the optimist, it is achievable if Koeman can wave his magic wand again and meld together a re-jigged side ready to compete against the best in the land.
Will the Europa League prove to be an energy sapping and injury inducing sideline for Saints?
Like most people, I am a big critic of this competitions design. It is crazy that Saints would need to play 19 matches in order to pick up the trophy. The powers that be could easily create a seeded knockout competition more in the mould of the now defunct UEFA Cup.
Why on earth defeated teams from the Champions League earn the right to enter at the later stages defies belief. After saying all that, Saints should make the most of this opportunity to further put Southampton on the European footballing map with some success in this competition.
At worst, fans can enjoy the themselves following Saints around Europe for the first time in over a decade. At best, they could excel themselves and go and win the thing.
Looking at the fixture list, Saints have been delivered less than the most challenging of matches early on so there is a big need to accumulate points on the board before they encounter the big boys.
Here's to hoping they can start this Saturday against Everton.
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