Fri. Jan 27th, 2023

James Ward-Prowse has scored 4 objectives in his final 5 video games for Southampton

In January 2022, Southampton have been taken over by Sport Republic, with chief government Martin Semmens describing it as “a pivotal second” for the membership.

A 12 months on, Saints are backside of the Premier League and co-owner Rasmus Ankersen summed up their first 12 months in cost as a “actually tough journey”.

So what is going on on? Has the rot set in or is it simply teething issues for bold new house owners?

A Carabao Cup semi-final first leg towards Newcastle on Tuesday suggests some progress, so BBC Sport went in quest of solutions.

A depressing 12 months on the pitch

Out of the 17 groups that began and ended 2022 within the Premier League, Southampton picked up the fewest factors (31), misplaced essentially the most video games (21) and had the worst objective distinction (-32).

It didn’t need to be that manner.

Glorious type by means of January and February 2022 introduced memorable outcomes towards Spurs and Manchester Metropolis in addition to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Then their season imploded.

“They went to Aston Villa, received caned and by no means recovered,” mentioned BBC Radio Solent’s Adam Blackmore of a 4-0 hammering at Villa Park in March. “They fell off a cliff.”

From ninth with 35 factors after 26 video games, they picked up solely 5 extra factors and completed fifteenth.

This season, an encouraging victory over Chelsea in August was adopted by only one win in 13, Ralph Hasenhuttl being sacked and the temper on the south coast mutinous.

Cash to spend – however how efficiently?

Funding was a lot wanted at Southampton after years of haemorrhaging expertise, with key gamers together with Virgil van Dijk and Danny Ings leaving for pastures new since 2018.

2022Oriel RomeuGirona2021Danny IngsAston Villa2020Pierre-Emile HojbjergTottenham2018Virgil van Dijk, Dusan TadicLiverpool, Ajax

In the summertime, greater than £70m was splashed on thrilling younger gamers together with Manchester Metropolis kids Romeo Lavia and Gavin Bazunu.

Nonetheless, the departures of skilled professionals Nathan Redmond, Fraser Forster, Shane Lengthy and Oriel Romeu left a management hole, with former Saints midfielder Jo Tessem arguing there was an excessive amount of change, too quickly.

“There’s a long-term plan and they’ll get higher,” he mentioned. “They’re proficient – Lavia is without doubt one of the high three greatest younger gamers within the Premier League in my opinion.

“However, as a result of they’ve offered so many good gamers, there’s an excessive amount of duty on the youthful gamers.”

Ankersen disputes this, citing signings of internationals Joe Aribo and Duje Caleta-Automobile as proof of a extra pragmatic strategy.

“We mentioned goodbye to just one beginning XI participant in Romeu,” he mentioned. “And our technique is aligned with what Southampton has been for a few years, turning potential into excellence.

“We have got some actually thrilling abilities that may be among the many world’s greatest, however it’s at all times a stability.”

Semmens agrees, saying: “There’s a clear plan and we’re getting in the precise route.”

Southampton podcast The Saints Rating co-host Harry Tizard appreciates their logic, telling BBC Sport “a youthful dressing room breeds inconsistency”.

“When you find yourself dropping and your group haven’t skilled the harder facet of soccer, it may be tough,” he mentioned. “We can not compete financially, so we’ve got to take a special strategy.”

Certainly, on Monday, Southampton recalled 26-year-old Jan Bednarek from his season-long mortgage at Aston Villa, with boss Nathan Jones citing the necessity to add extra “expertise” to his defence.

For Blackmore nevertheless, it is a easy downside. Southampton have wanted a goalscorer for a very long time – and failure in the summertime to deal with the problem made this season’s issues inevitable, even when a latest tactical tweak has introduced extra objectives for James Ward-Prowse.

“Ralph was promised a striker and he by no means received one,” he mentioned. “In the event that they’d made the signing, they might not be on this place and he may nonetheless have his job.”

The brand new man on the helmNathan Jones has gained one and misplaced 5 of his first six video games within the Premier League

Luton City boss Jones changed Hasenhuttl on the eve of the World Cup and had 5 weeks along with his new gamers. That, in accordance with Blackmore, didn’t assist.

“He’d promised his group would have a transparent identification and he had all that point to be ready for the Christmas fixtures however it appeared to haven’t any affect,” he mentioned.

“Maybe the gamers received tired of coaching with no video games. He did not get a honeymoon interval.”

Tessem agrees, saying within the Boxing Day defeat to Brighton, Saints regarded like they have been enjoying somebody “from a special division”.

Kind reached its nadir towards Nottingham Forest at St Mary’s earlier this month as Southampton had no photographs heading in the right direction and misplaced at residence to the division’s worst group on the highway.

With the press, Jones has lower a annoyed determine at occasions. Three spectacular wins in all competitions throughout seven days towards Crystal Palace, Manchester Metropolis and Everton helped instil confidence, however a slender loss at residence to Aston Villa on Saturday prevented Saints overcoming what he described as “the primary psychological barrier” of escaping the underside three.

“I hope someone is advising him to be much less defensive in interviews,” mentioned Blackmore. “He doesn’t need to justify his existence. He must get individuals on his facet.”

Crucially, his bosses are on board. It is not in Southampton’s DNA to make knee-jerk managerial selections.

Ankersen admitted Jones was “by no means going to be an appointment for excellent PR” however his document as supervisor of the 12 months within the Championship final season – “Europe’s sixth-biggest league”, the co-owner insists – steered he might be profitable at the next degree.

“He ticked packing containers for us,” mentioned Ankersen. “We would have liked a supervisor who believed in what we believed in. We knew the problems – squad togetherness, set performs, holding clear sheets and being more durable to beat.

“He has a observe document of fixing these.”

Tizard agrees with the message from Sport Republic: “Most issues they mentioned made sense,” he mentioned. “You’ve seen a group in latest video games which might be enjoying for his or her supervisor.”

The house owners’ undertaking might get lift-off if they’ll sneak previous Newcastle and attain a primary home cup closing since 2017.

Our protection of your Premier League membership is larger and higher than ever earlier than – comply with Southampton within the BBC Sport app to be sure you by no means miss a second

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