What is the secret behind Southampton's success?
As anyone who follows football will be aware, Southampton FC have shot out the blocks this season, surprising even the most optimistic of fans. With many media outlets and fans […]
As anyone who follows football will be aware, Southampton FC have shot out the blocks this season, surprising even the most optimistic of fans. With many media outlets and fans previously predicting a mid-table finish with perhaps a push towards the play-offs, what is it that has Nigel Adkins’ Southampton sitting 5 points clear at the top of the table with a third of the season gone?
That winning feeling.
Many were surprised after Norwich managed to achieve promotion to the Premiership last season, having just been promoted from League 1. Millwall and Leeds also did well, both finishing in the top half. With Southampton, Brighton and Peterborough all doing well this season, largely with the same squads that got them promoted, it shows the importance of carrying on the momentum and maintaining the winning feeling.
Having the right characters.
With the recent high profile incidents involving a certain Tevez, it shows the importance of bringing in players who not only fit in ability wise, but also personality wise. For Adkins this seems incredibly important, a distinct difference between him and his predecessor, Alan Pardew. There are no big egos in the current squad, and there is a good blend of youth and experience, with lots of players hungry for success with a point to prove, rather than over the hill players from the Premiership on unsustainable wages looking for a last pay day before retiring.
Fortress St Mary’s.
Following the win over Peterborough on Tuesday, Southampton have now won 19 home matches in a row, an astonishing record. To put this into perspective, the Saints have won every single home game since losing to Manchester United in the FA Cup in January. The last team to better this record was Liverpool in the 1971/72 season. The record is currently held by Bradford Park Avenue, who won 25 games in a row in the old Third Division North in 1927.
Since the squad overhaul in the summer of 2009 following the takeover by Markus Liebherr, the team has stayed largely settled during transfer windows. For example, despite being in the Championship this season, there were only 4 players brought in, all of whom had to win their right to start games ahead of the players already here. Compare this to Leicester, who brought in 12 new players to the tune of around £10m, of which most walked into the starting line up. They are currently 11 points from the top of the table. The fact that the nucleus of the Southampton team has been together for a good length of time has given them time to blend, of vital importance in a fast paced team game such as football.
So what does the future hold for Southampton?
With the first league game since 2005 against rivals Portsmouth just around the corner, and Southampton looking to avenge the 4-1 defeat they suffered at Fratton Park, the question on many fans lips is ‘Can we keep it going?’. With the January transfer window not too far away, and the £12m from the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain deal still sitting in the bank, if the Saints can stay top of the league they have a fantastic chance of attracting some talent to St Marys to help out with the promotion push. A long way to go yet but if Southampton do get promoted back up to the top tier of English football for the first time since 2005 it will be an incredible turnaround for the club which almost ceased to exist only two years ago.