Struggling to a 17th placed finish in the table last season, Southampton needed a 1-0 win at Swansea City in their penultimate match of the campaign to secure their status as a Premier League club for 2018/19. However, while the club faced more than its fair share of struggles and issues last season, there is major reason for hope as the club turns the page and prepares for the 2018/19 campaign.
Southampton Season Preview
This campaign promises to be an improvement on the last. Manager Mark Hughes continues at the helm after taking over late last season. Adding to this is the arrival of four new players who all look set to play extremely important roles in the first team squad this season. Without a doubt, the 2018/19 campaign should see Saints return to their once normal spot in the upper part of the midtable.
Looking at the Saints’ squad for this season, most of the reason for increased hope comes down to the expected quality of the club’s new arrivals. While Southampton have sold Dušan Tadić this summer, the club has also been busy bringing in top quality players that should contribute from the get-go this season.
Beginning the summer transfer period with the signing of Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong, Southampton quickly replaced the departing Tadić by signing Norwegian international Mohamed Elyounoussi. While the club could have easily backed off the accelerator at this point, Southampton continued full speed into the transfer market, later signing Manchester City goalkeeper Angus Gunn as well as 6’7 Danish centre-back Jannik Vestergaard.
Unlike previous seasons, not only should all these signings have an immediate impact on the south coast, all four will be in competition for starting spots from the get-go this season. While the club are unlikely to add another signing before the transfer window closes, these four signings show that Southampton are truly committed to returning to the safety of the upper mid-table.
Stability as Manager
For the first time since the 2015/16 campaign, Southampton begin the season with an established manager. While the last two seasons have been rough on supporters with the utterly dull Claude Puel followed by the out-of-his-depth Mauricio Pellegrino, Southampton have had a rough ride at the managerial position, to say the least.
However, following his appointment near the end of last season, Mark Hughes has established himself as a safe pair of hands for the club to rely on. Bringing with him the fun football that Saints supporters expect from their team, Hughes has begun to make his mark on the club. Acquiring four fresh faces to his first-team squad this summer, Hughes also sent the overrated Sofiane Boufal and Guido Carrillo out on loan.
Without a doubt, Mark Hughes looks set to finally give Southampton true stability at the managerial position. Lacking this quality since the departure of Ronald Koeman, Saints will hopefully use this stability to reestablish themselves in the upper part of the table, potentially even competing for a top eight finish this season.
Predicted Premier League Finish: 10th
Seeing major improvement across the board so far this summer, the struggles that plagued Southampton last season should not rear their ugly head again. While the club still has definite question marks at the forward position, Saints look set to at least compete for an upper mid-table finish in 2018/19.
If the goalscoring issues that have troubled the Saints for the last two seasons go away this year, Southampton should have no trouble competing for a potential Europa League spot this season. However, do expect the club to once again struggle in the goals department, causing the side to fall back a bit in the table. However, given the improvement we have seen in the rest of the squad, a solid mid-table finish should be on the cards for Southampton. Going right down the middle, tenth place seems to be a safe and likely pick for where this Saints squad should finish the campaign.