Four years ago Southampton FC sat at the bottom of the third tier of English Football, but in just a short space of time, the Saints have experienced a whirlwind change of fortunes and are currently riding high, holding onto a Champions League spot. But how did they get to such lofty heights in such a short space of time?
After dropping from The Premiership in 2005, a string of unfortunate events eventually saw them slip into administration and into the depths of League 1. Not only were they in deep financial trouble, they had sold off some of the most talented players and young prospects to grace St. Mary’s including the likes of Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott.
But with The Saints seeing the back of Rupert Lowe and his Dutch duo who successfully managed the team into relegation, the future was looking up. The saviours of Southampton swooped in to buy the failing club who had once won the FA Cup back in 1976.
In the summer of 2009, Swiss businessman, Markus Liebherr, was that saviour and along with his new ruthless Chairman, Nicola Cortese, began to set the cogs in motion. Former Charlton man, Alan Pardew, was bought in, which opened the doors to a flood of signings including striker Rickie Lambert. A move that both Southampton and England fans will now be grateful for.
Under their new guidance, Southampton began to climb the league and saw them play at Wembley to triumphantly win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in a 4-1 thrashing over Carlisle. Then on the 10th of August, the fans and club were about to suffer a blow that many feared would see the end of their good fortunes. Marcus Liebherr, had passed away. The stadium was drowned under a sea of shirts and scarves, flags and flowers , in tribute to the man who lifted the Saints up from their darkest hour. To the fans, he was a true Saint.
More bad news was about to follow, which left many questioning the ability of Cortese, now that Liebherr had gone. Amongst much covered up controversy, Pardew was sacked. Despite winning the club a trophy and finishing in a respectable position given the 10-point deduction, this wasn’t good enough for the callous Italian. Little known Nigel Adkins was bought in to the dismay of many at the club in September 2010, but this proved to be a tactical move by the Chairman. Adkins bought in fresh faces, and introduced some of the academy to first team football, including young starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Promotion was secured that season, and then again the next, seeing Southampton return to a place where many feel the club belongs.
Then again, in their first season back in the big time, Cortese once again shook things up with the sacking of Adkins. Fans were outraged and left thinking ‘Not again!’ But the success that Pochettino has achieved at the club should now make fans put their trust in the Chairman’s decisions. Even if it means the exit of a successful gaffer, and the entrance of someone who leaves the stands saying ‘who?’
Pocchetino is beginning to fully make his mark on the South Coast club, and with two record signings, some promising talent rising up through the much revered academy, and a Chairman who won’t settle for anything less than the best, Southampton are set to be real competitors this season.
The Saints have gone into the International break with a number of players having answered their call of duty from their respective countries. They currently sit fourth in the English Premier League, and sport Europe’s second-best defensive record. With the two-week break coming to an end, Southampton travel to Old Trafford, a stadium that many teams fear walking in to. But with David Moyes not making the impression he may have wanted, Southampton will be marching in looking for their fourth consecutive victory.