Earlier today I stumbled upon the following video, and to be quite frank with you, it’s dragged me into a state of depression.
With the dismissal of Claude Puel earlier in the week, it’s already been well documented just how uninspiring the Saints were over their 2016/17 campaign. 17 Premier League goals in 19 home fixtures, not a single player reaching the double digits of goalscoring, and Charlie Austin finishing the season as our top goalscorer (despite being injured since December).
But by no means is this telling of the Southampton way or years gone by.
In recent years, fans on the South coast have often been treated to free-flowing football and a guarantee of effective attacking play – even when the aesthetics itself may take a hit. This goals compilation of the 2015/16 season proves just that.
Having finished reminiscing over these times however, a number of thoughts quickly came to mind…
Firstly, just how influential Graziano Pelle’ was in each and every attack; whether it was a thumping header, a delicate touch on his chest, or even being a nuisance with his 6ft 4in frame, Pelle’ was a constant nightmare for defenders to handle. There’s simply no denying that we’ve missed the focal point of the Italian International in our frontline this season.
On top of this, we failed to replace the blistering pace and clinical nature of Sadio Mane. The Senegalese International recorded an outstanding 11 goals in 37 league appearances as a winger, yet we avoided signing a like-for-like substitute. It’s ludicrous to expect Nathan Redmond to match such a tally already, whilst Sofiane Boufal certainly falls into the category of a creative winger, rather than a goalscorer; where on earth were we expecting to make up for these lost goals?
And finally, there’s the fact that Ronald Koeman managed to work 10 Premier League goals out of Shane Long. Whilst Long’s finishing itself has certainly been well below par this season (3), it’s got to be said that he’s been forced to operate as a square peg in a round hole under Claude Puel. Had he worked under a manager that plays to his limited strengths, we could have seen his fine form continue into the new season.
One things for certain however, and that’s the demand for our ruthlessness in front of goal to return to St Mary’s.