If you listened to most people all summer long, Southampton might as well be playing in the fourth tier of English soccer.
Selling five key players and losing their manager Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham Hotspur, the words “meltdown” and “Southampton” became synonymous. There are plenty of critics currently eating copious amounts of humble pie.
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After five Premier League games of the Ronald Koeman era, Southampton are second in the standings after three-straight wins as the Dutch legend has seamlessly overhauled the squad and kept the clubs philosophy of attacking soccer intact. Their latest win came away against Swansea City on Saturday, as Victor Wanyama delivered a stunning goal off the bench to give the Saints all three points. After losing the likes of Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers to clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal over the summer, Saints had their top talent cherry-picked but did make over $170 million in transfer fees.
The way Koeman, Director of Football Les Reed and Chairman Ralph Krueger have spent that money, plus made a $60 million profit on transfer fees, must be commended. With Dusan Tadic, Fraser Forster, Graziano Pelle and several others players arriving and already making a big impact, Southampton have proved all the doubters wrong, so far, and arguably have a better, deeper squad than this time last season.
Despite the euphoria from Saints fans about their fantastic start to the season, they have had a fairly easy schedule. The real test will come in December and January when they face several top teams on the trot, playing both Chelsea and Arsenal home and away during the turn of the year.
That said, 10 points after five games is a fantastic return and those tipping Southampton for relegation at the start of the season may be feeling a little silly at the moment. It’s a long season but, so far, the Saints are in heaven.