Stadium: St Mary’s
Location: Southampton (south coast of England)
Head Coach: Ralph Hasenhuttl
Nickname: The Saints
Rival(s): Portsmouth, Bournemouth
Top-Division Titles: Zero
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Best possible XI:
Key arrivals: Che Adams (Birmingham City), Moussa Djenepo (Standard Liege), Kevin Danso (Loan, Augsburg)
Key departures: Matt Targett (Aston Villa), Sam Gallagher (Blackburn Rovers), Steven Davis (Glasgow Rangers)
Ranking their offseason: Results wise it has been a very positive preseason for Southampton. Ralph Hasenhuttl joined midway through last season and orchestrated a superb turnaround to drag them away from the bottom three. A full preseason of his intense high-pressing tactics has now been drilled into Saints and signing Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo will give them more pace and power in attack. They added Danso on deadline day to help out their leaky defense, while shifting on so many big earners from their bloated squad has been an issue. Wesley Hoedt, Mario Lemina and Guido Carillo are still around, while the likes of Cedric and Sofiane Boufal may get a second chance to impress Hasenhuttl. Youngsters Will Smallbone and Jake Vokins look ready to break through from their famed academy. Overall, not bad. 7/10
Star player: Without Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield, Saints look a little lost. The Danish international has become Saints’ skipper and had an immense second half of last season to drag them away from the relegation zone. So too did Nathan Remond, Jan Bednarek and James Ward-Prowse, who have all become firm fans favorites since Hasenhuttl arrived. Danny Ings and new signing Adams have the potential to be stars if they can score goals early and often this season, but Hojbjerg is the glue which holds the team together.
Coaches’ Corner: Saints’ Austrian head coach came to their rescue last season and his energy and enthusiasm is infectious, with the fans on his side. Hasenhuttl’s style of play is exciting but Saints need to shore things up defensively as they conceded so many late goals last season. They are one of the youngest teams in the league and Hasenhuttl loves to work with young players and play a fast, frenetic style of play. That will unsettle plenty of teams and his reputation as the Klopp of the Alps will be enhanced further if he can push Saints towards a top 10 finish this season.
PST predicts: Saints should be clear of a season-long relegation battle but don’t expect too much. This squad is young and very top heavy, with defensive issues yet to be sorted. Hasenhuttl is in his first full year as Saints’ manager and it will be intriguing to see how a full offseason of his tactics have impacted this team. Southampton will be tough to play against and should finish in the lower part of midtable.