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Where do Southampton need to improve in the upcoming transfer window?

With 12 games gone in the Premier League this season, Southampton F.C. currently  sit 10th in the table. This means that now, we can start to see where our strengths and weaknesses lie in this new-look Saints side under Claude Puel.

The Saints have not set the world on fire, nor have they been totally under-impressive, but we all knew that it would be a tough transition period after Koeman’s departure. With that said, there have been some who have performed to an excellent standard. Virgil Van Dijk has arguably been the best centre-half in the Premier League, Oriol Romeu has been fantastic over the last two months in defensive-midfield and the ever-reliable Charlie Austin has the highest goal tally of any English, Premier League player this season – so where do we need to improve?

Firstly, Austin needs some support.

Shane Long is yet to find his first goal of the season despite a very successful campaign last term. In addition to this, Jay Rodriguez has struggled to get into the side even when fit and, lastly, Nathan Redmond has only scored three after his conversion to a striker under Puel.

In a formation where we are relying on two strikers to get our goals, we simply haven’t scored enough goals. Jay Rodriguez’s Southampton career could be over after the summer fiasco, and if Long does not start scoring soon, unfortunately the same could be said for him as well, having fallen to the bench under Puel. We need to buy a fresh young European striker, who can provide more goals and healthy competition in the hopes that Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez could start to fire again.

For this position, look no further than 22-year-old Andrea Belotti of Torino, who has manage to record ten goals and three assists in the Serie A this season. With a shot conversion rate of 65%, Belotti is an all round strong centre-forward, with decent pace, strength and most importantly, a clinical edge in front of goal. He may command a hefty fee given his age and attacking prowess, but if Southampton truly want to push on into the upper echelons of English football, they need more goals. With regards to prizing him away from Torino, Southampton would provide a club that nurtures young domestic and foreign talent, a club with ambitions of hitting the heights of European football and a springboard for him to push on to other clubs if he desires (as has happened with Clyne, Mané, Schneiderlin etc.)

Secondly, in spite of the fact that we hold great quality in the heart of defence with Virgil Van Dijk and Jose Fonte, we must be prepared for the future. The reason being is that whilst Fonte is still a fantastic defender for us, I think all fans can admit that a decline is underway (even if it is a small one at that). On top of this, Van Dijk has been receiving praise from all angles in recent weeks and in such fine form, a bid from a big club cant be too far away. For these reasons, it would be valuable and worthwhile for Southampton to snap up a young defender that can provide competition and be eased into the side at the time of Van Dijk’s potential departure or Fonte’s downfall. 

Southampton are constantly linked with Rúben Semedo, a centre back who has been superb for Sporting Lisbon this season. He is a young, versatile Portuguese defender who can play both in the centre and on the right of the defence, and at only 22 years of age, he would fit the “Southampton philosophy” of signing young European talent. Not to mention that he could also settle in easily with his fellow Portuguese compatriots, in Fonte and Cédric.

He would provide cover and competition in two different positions and he has the ability to make a name for himself in the Premier League. With regards to prizing him away from one of Portugal’s biggest clubs, we’ve already done it with Cédric, and players of Semedo’s class at his age will want to push on and play in a more competitive league.

Thirdly, with our narrow diamond we desperately need to make sure that there are players in the club that can play in one of three positions; holding midfield, central midfield and attacking midfield.

We have a plethora of creative options in Dušan Tadić, Sofiane Boufal and the young Jake Hesketh, but at holding midfielder we only have Oriol Romeu. Personally, I would like to see Southampton bring in another player who can play in both the centre and the holding roles, offering cover for Romeu but also healthy competition in the centre.

Morgan Schneiderlin is the name on every fan’s lips. He is a player that is undoubtedly still a fan favourite at St. Mary’s, a player that would slot perfectly into our formation, a player that would not need time to settle into the club, and finally, a player that would probably be favourable to Claude Puel given his nationality. I genuinely believe that we could tempt Morgan to come home, offering the push towards European football that he so desired and a good contract at a club that he is very fond of. However, it’s undeniable that Manchester United would want to recoup a large proportion of the £25m+ they paid for him.

Those are my thoughts on the three areas where Southampton need to strengthen, and I believe that getting those three players along with some other additions for squad depth and hopefully more youth promotion, Saints could continue to push on and cement a Europa League place in the Premier League. There have been rumours of takeover bids at the club in recent weeks too, so maybe our money concerns will be put to rest and we could finally financially compete with the next tier of Premier League sides.

Supporting Southampton from across the pond

I’ve been following soccer for a while now. Sorry, I’ve been following football for a while now. I’ve played since I was just a little boy, and growing up I only really knew the big names: Man United, Barcelona, Real Madrid. I knew nothing about any other teams, but I started learning more about them as my football viewing kept on.

I eventually found myself admiring Southampton for the same reasons any fan might. I like watching attractive football, I like the idea of supporting a team with young talented prospects, and who doesn’t like to root for an underdog every now and again?

But the one thing that kept me tuning into Saints games was simple. Southampton to me, seemed to be a club that wholly trusted itself. Regardless of what the premier league throws the team’s way, the Saints keep producing because they believe in their philosophy.

I don’t know any other Americans who support Southampton. American EPL fans will recognize the club, FIFA players will be familiar with its players, but beyond that there’s no one. I think there’s a good chance that I’m the only American Southampton supporter in the world.

My friends will continue to follow their clubs: United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton. (I even know a Watford supporter, believe it or not). But I’m good with that. I’m going to root for the Saints.

This year, at the start of the EPL season, I decided to really increase my following of Southampton. Like, truly become a supporter. It didn’t bother me that I thought we’d be in for a tough season. Sure, I wanted to win loads of games and push on to bigger and better achievements, but I was realistic. I was extremely skeptical of implementing a diamond in midfield, and although I was thoroughly excited at the purchase of Nathan Redmond – who I’m a huge fan of – were we really going to be testing him as a striker?

But as it turns out, we’ve done well at implementing both of those things and more.  

I’ve watched all the games, or at least as many as I could, and to be honest, I’m pretty happy overall. Heading toward Christmas-time and looking at where we stand in the table, I think we’ve fared decently. We’ve had many quality outings, especially in the Europa League, and our football has been good. As Puel said early on, attractive football can “give pleasure to the players,” but it “gives pleasure to the fans also.” I think if we trust how we’ve been playing, success will come.

Southampton’s identity is something that I will respect for as long as it remains intact – it’s a truly unique thing in modern football. That, plus the continued success of recent years, is truly irresistible from my perspective. There’s still plenty more twists and turns in the remainder of this season, but in this moment, I’m hopeful we can fight for yet another high finish.

We march on.

Written by Nick Thelen – @itsmenickyt

The contradictory demands of loyalty from football fans

Loyalty – a trait that many football fans demand from their clubs players, but one that they themselves can so often forget to reciprocate.

In modern day football, many fans have grown up knowing that they have to cherish their club’s finest talents, as the moment that a big club comes calling, departure is inevitable. Understandably, this can be frustrating to experience, and as a Southampton fan, I know this better than most.

This more often than not leads to fans cussing the player, growing to hate them and in many circumstances, demanding that the player should have shown more loyalty. This was the case for Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and many more former Saints, and in truth, many of these players received the appropriate backlash to their decisions.

However, what leaves me confused is when fans bark and order for players to show loyalty to their club and fans, whilst they themselves only show loyalty to the player when it suits them.

The sad truth is that increasingly, it seems that the deciding factor in just how much loyalty fans show towards players has become determined by that player’s ability alone…

This became apparent to me after the Hull City game yesterday when just a quick search of ‘Jordy Clasie’ on Twitter, proved to me just how fickle some fans can be.

Criticism is allowed, in fact, it’s welcomed and encouraged. As fans, we deserve to voice our opinion over the performance of the players, but hurling abuse and treating one of our own players with no respect? That’s just ridiculous and unjustified.

Granted, Clasie’s performances have been below par of late and this is most certainly frustrating, but how many of us could truly put in a fantastic day’s work if being criticised constantly and publicly? Clasie has never kicked up a fuss at Southampton, has a strong relationship with Claude Puel, respects the fans, and quite evidently, gives his all on the pitch.

How can the same fans that abuse and turn on their own hard-working and honest players, simultaneously demand loyalty from their clubs wanted assets/stars?  

Southampton 0-2 Chelsea: where did it all go wrong?

Defeat is always painful. Sometimes in football there are games when you can watch your side dominate in the most beautiful fashion, only for them to throw it all away in the 90th minute.  Then there are moments when you stand in the stadium and question how such a gutless performance can be considered acceptable, but as a fan of a side that hadn’t lost at home since last February, this is something that I’ve been fortunate to avoid. But as the final whistle blew in Southampton’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea yesterday, I found myself placing the defeat entirely down to an Antonio Conte masterclass.

On the face of things, this game dropped right into the hands of both sides; Southampton favour a possession-based style of football under Claude Puel, whilst Conte’s Chelsea prefer to sit deep and remain compact. Unsurprisingly, both sides carried out these aspects of their games without a worry, but it was Southampton’s inability to cut open the Blue’s defence and Chelsea’s ruthless finishing in front of goal that made the difference. But how exactly did Southampton allow that to happen?

To anyone who has watched Southampton under the microscope this season, they will recognise just how important the fullbacks are in Claude Puel’s system. They are a driving force in build up play, the first outlet when switching the ball and are required to overlap in the final third.

They are there to constantly provide options to anyone on the ball and to place doubt into the mind of the opposition fullbacks. However, due to Puel’s decision not to start wingers and Conte’s incredibly well drilled 3421 formation, Southampton struggled to find joy in these wide areas.

The reason being is that when Southampton picked up the ball in these wide areas, Chelsea would double or sometimes even triple up on Southampton’s only out and out wide player – the fullback.

Conte would simply instruct either one of Victor Moses or Marcos Alonso to man mark the fullback, whilst the left or right-sided centre-back will look to spread wider and provide cover behind.

From here, Southampton have two choices. The first is that they can play the ball inside due to a lack of attacking options, but this will force them into the direction of midfield duo Nemanja Matic and Ngolo Kante – it doesn’t take a genius to work out that out of all the ways to breach the Chelsea defence, this isn’t the way to go. Pace, strength, energy and technique, this partnership has it all.  

The second option is for Southampton to lump the ball into a box that contains Thibaut Courtois, David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta. Once again, given the size, experience and sheer numbers in the box at this moment, this option should also be avoided. Without more than one natural wide player available at all times, Southampton only offer themselves these two ineffective options. 

Whilst this only explains how Southampton failed to score, it also helps to explain how Chelsea managed to grab both of their goals.

As Southampton no longer start wingers, the fullbacks have to take up very offensive starting positions. This is something that Conte wanted his side to encourage from Ryan Bertrand and Cuco Martina, with the idea that when his side recover the ball, they will instantly look to attack the open channels.

Given the quality of Hazard, Moses and Pedro in wide counter attacking situations, this proved to be a devastatingly effective game plan. So much so that even when Bertrand or Martina were able to drop back into their defensive positions in time, the entirety of the Southampton midfield wouldn’t be back in their defensive shape yet, giving Chelsea some inviting areas of space to drive into.

Coming into this game Conte looked at how his side could create the most dangerous attacks, not the most, and he executed it with absolute perfection. Seven shots on target from 13 attempts is an indication as to just how dangerous those attacks were.

Bertrand and Martina’s usual role in the Southampton side has huge physical demands, and this is something that Conte looked to take advantage of. With his counter-attacking focus to the game, Conte forced the Southampton fullbacks to make numerous 60+ yard sprints back to their box, giving Chelsea’s wide men the advantage of running at some lazy-legged defenders in the later stages of the game. Perhaps that explains Martina’s comical attempt of blocking Diego Costa’s fine curling strike?

In recent weeks Southampton have played with such remarkable understanding in their system, and in truth, plenty of that understanding was still on show yesterday. The only difference however is that Chelsea Football Club, one of the League’s strongest outfits, has Antonio Conte at the helm – a man who is currently squeezing every last drop of talent out of all the players at his disposal.

Fancy Southampton to get back to winning ways this Sunday against Hull City? Then check out  Tips Daddy for the best advice on value bets.

Claude Puel’s focus on aesthetics at Southampton FC

“It’s important to play good football and to give pleasure to the players, because if they feel good together and they play good football, they can give pleasure to the fans also” – this is a quote from Southampton boss Claude Puel on the day that Les Reed decided that this man was the right man to take our club forward. Nearly four months on, Puel has well and truly lived up to his word.

After being appointed on June 30 2016, there were split opinions amongst the Southampton fans regarding Claude Puel. One-half were optimistic and had faith in the decision due to the clubs previous managerial appointments, whilst the other half were ruing the missed opportunity to bring in a proven name (Manuel Pellegrini was a name mentioned by many).

Over the first four fixtures, the bedwetters and the media were in heaven. Southampton had picked up just two points in the League whilst looking lightweight in attack, void of any creativity and unaware of Puel’s tactical demands. This cued the beginning of numerous fans questioning Puel’s appointment and more specifically, his decision to play a 442 diamond. In this moment they believed that they were right – that Southampton’s replacement policy had finally failed and that all those years of warning the club had paid off.

Oh but football is a crazy game and believe it or not, it takes more than just four fixtures for a manager to implement his ideas effectively. When you are willing to show patience and place trust in a manager, the rewards can be remarkable; something that many Southampton fans are having to come to terms with this season.

The Saints currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League, but the most staggering feature of Puel’s reign at Southampton so far has been the aesthetics of his side. Yes, Puel is desperate to grab all three points at any given opportunity, but his other demand from the players is one that sits nicely for onlookers at St Mary’s; entertainment.

Puel is a strong believer in playing football the right way. This means encouraging and training his players to keep the ball on the ground, remain composed at all times and to not be afraid to take calculated risks – a style and set of ideologies in football similar to that of Arsene Wenger.

Unlike Wenger however, Puel opts for his team to carry out these ideologies in a 442 diamond. This formation allows each player to have a constant set of clear cut passing opportunities, which has allowed our defence and midfield to play with more composure than ever before.

Puel has placed great emphasis on passing in triangles since arriving, with the intention to maintain the ball until the perfect opportunity to cut open the oppositions defence arises. It requires exceptional patience, intelligence and skill to carry out such a game plan, and impressively, Puel has helped to increase these three traits in all of our players.

The result is a style of football that is filled with fluidity, one touch ball retention, precise passing, Intelligent decision making and effective trickery. To put it simply, I would say that it’s the most attractive football that Southampton have played in recent years.

When Mauricio Pochettino was at the helm of Southampton Football Club, the Argentine encouraged a very disciplined and drilled style of football. Pochettino’s time at Southampton was all about improving fitness, holding a strong and resilient defensive shape, and having the ability to attack in an effective manner. This gifted the Southampton fans many exciting games, but in truth, the football was often predictable and was more impressive for its organisation, rather than the aesthetics of the football itself.

Then along came Ronald Koeman who shared the same desire for defensive stability as Mauricio Pochettino, whilst also having the willingness to allow for greater fluidity. The only issue however is that Koeman had a tendency to display favouritism towards certain players at Southampton and didn’t prioritise the desire to play good football. It’s undeniable that there were many moments of exceptional play, but in large parts of the season Koeman would revert to an awfully direct style of football – a style that would have been labelled “hoof ball” if Koeman was an Englishman.

At this point I want to highlight that by no means am I making such comments about Pochettino and Koeman out of spite or as a cheeky remark. I believe that both managers are amongst some of the very best names in management and that Puel has a lot of work to do in order to be mentioned alongside them. However, in this moment Southampton have only fallen to defeat against Inter Milan, Arsenal and Manchester United under the Frenchman, all whilst playing this expansive and positive style of football. Given Southampton’s track record of managerial appointments, this gives the Southampton fans good reason to be optimistic for the remainder of the season.

Whilst the effectiveness of Puel’s ideologies remain to be seen, there is one thing that the Frenchman has proved to us, that he is capable of making Southampton Football Club play their most attractive football in recent years.

How Claude Puel has created a plethora of options at Southampton FC

Last night was a night of mixed emotions. On one side, our minds were filled with anger as we watched Antonio Candreva cruelly and undeservedly put Southampton to the sword. But on the other side, pride was pumping through our hearts as we watched our beloved Southampton dominate play in the historic San Siro Stadium. Regardless of how much we think about it now, we can’t change a thing; that’s football. But last night there was a decision by Southampton boss Claude Puel that we should be thinking about, as it gives us great reason to be optimistic over the future of Southampton Football Club.

As the clock struck six, Southampton had taken yet another step in completing the journey that Markus Liebherr envisioned all those years ago. The boys in red and white were finally underway against Inter Milan in the Europa League – an event that serves as a reward for the hard work of last season. But I’m not writing this to discuss the importance of such a game – anyone with even a brief knowledge of football will understand the magnitude of this tie for every Southampton fan. I’m writing this because of Puel’s selection at five o’clock and the remarkable performance that came with it.

When the teams were announced, it showed that multiple players who have been at the core of Southampton’s recent fine form were on the bench (or injured). Club captain Jose Fonte and top goalscorer Charlie Austin were told to have a rest, whilst the fit and formidable midfield partnership of Steven Davis and Jordy Clasie were also dropped. In addition to this, Matt Targett, Ryan Bertrand, Cedric Soares and Nathan Redmond were all left back in England as they continue their road to recovery from injury.

Yet despite the decision to make so many changes ahead of perhaps one of Southampton biggest ever games, the team still played the Claude Puel way. The team carried out their roles as expected, dug deep and played with an immense understanding of one another, almost as if each player was in Puel’s weekly XI. There was not even as much as a hint to suggest that any of the players on that field were squad players or youngsters.  

This tells me that Puel is successfully drilling his beliefs and demands in how he believes football should be played into every player at Southampton. I must place emphasis on the term “every player” here too, as it appears that Puel views every squad member as a valuable asset who shouldn’t feel segregated in the side. This is filling players who would previously only be considered “squad players” with confidence, perhaps explaining why they are making such seamless transitions into the starting XI.

Just for a moment Imagine if during his time at Southampton, Ronald Koeman was having to plan for last night’s fixture. If he selected that same starting XI from last night, then I have no doubt in my mind that we would have lost that game in an embarrassing manner. Not because I believe that he is a bad manager – in fact, he is a fantastic and very effective one – but because players outside of his favourite XI simply didn’t have the confidence and willingness needed to perform to a high standard. 

If Koeman started McQueen, Yoshida, Martina, Ward-Prowse, Romeu and Rodriguez in the same fixture, those players would have entered the pitch with a totally different mentality to that of last night. The reason being is that Koeman only ever would have considered such a line up in moments of desperation, and when players enter the field knowing that they are the weaker option, it’s easy to be turned over.

Yes, Puel is obviously helping the players to become more intelligent and skillful on the field, but it’s with the confidence and trust that he’s placed in every player at his disposal that’s making them carry out his system so effectively. In doing so, Southampton now have a plethora of options that have been created from within the squad, rather than needlessly looking to the transfer market.

Puel clearly understands that holding a happy, confident and tight-knit squad is in the fabric of success and Southampton Football Club.

 

Luck of the Irish?

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” is a phrase used by many in the world of football. But In the case of Shane Long over the past ten games, this phrase couldn’t be further from the truth. Week in and week out this man gives his all for Southampton Football Club, yet still, nothing seems to be falling in place for the Irishman at the minute. 

As Southampton fans looked over the success of their 2015/16 campaign, there was plenty to be optimistic about heading into the new season. Defensive solidity, a new found ruthlessness in front of goal and of course, qualification for the Europa League. Had it not been for the rise and development of Shane Long however, we may not have been able to look toward this current season with such positivity.

Over the first half of the 2015/16 season, it seemed to many that Southampton’s buy low and sell high approach to managing a football team had finally caught up with them. Ronald Koeman’s side were predictable, ineffective and for the first time in a long time, ugly. The team were in desperate need of fresh blood and oddly enough, it came in the form of an injury to Graziano Pelle’. With the absence of Pelle’, Koeman was forced into placing Shane Long into the starting XI – a decision that would save Southampton’s season and maybe even Koeman’s job.

Long’s high intensity, passion and direct style helped to make an instant impact in the side, with others taking inspiration from the Irishman’s work rate. Suddenly, Southampton were sharp and alive to every second ball, with results taking a turn for the better over the remainder of the season too. As a result, Long even managed to reach double figures for the first time in his Premier League career.

So, given that he finished the previous season in such fine form, where has it all gone wrong for Long?

With the introduction of Claude Puel at Southampton Football Club, there came a new system; the 442 diamond. Quite simply, this drastic change in system has placed Long in a position that will take patience, determination and Intelligence to overcome. The reason being is that Long is a square peg who must now fit into a round hole.

Previously under Koeman, Long spent two seasons learning how to operate as a lone forward, with the focus of the side being to provide him with service. The demands in this role predominantly involved a physical style of play, with the need to win headers, hold up the ball and ensure that you were in the box when the ball was delivered. Given Long’s natural fitness and strong build, he grew to be a real threat in this role after many months of learning on the training ground.

Under Puel however, the physical elements to Long’s game that helped to make him so effective are no longer a priority. As for the time he spent learning how to play as a lone forward, Puel favours having a two-man strike partnership. With such large changes to his demands as a player, is it any wonder that Long has struggled?

As a striker in Puel’s system there are a number of attributes that take great priority over physical dominance – this includes the ability to dribble, make cutting passes and possess natural flair. These are aspects of Long’s game that in truth, are weaknesses. Very rarely will Long have the ability to beat two or three players with the ball at his feet, have the technique to unlock a defence or have the skill to tip a game on its head. Puel’s system involves large amounts of ball possession and therefore, this requires great technical ability to escape from tight situations during a game.

In addition to this, Long is also having to learn and understand his demands as a forward with a strike partner and an expressive attacking midfielder. In a system such as Puel’s, the positioning of one player in the team directly affects the positioning of another, making it vital to understand your teammates if any sort of success is to be achieved.

Whilst Long’s lack of goalscoring may seem all doom and gloom for the moment, there are good reasons to be optimistic. Prior to Long’s stunning form last season, the Irishman played with little clue over what exactly Koeman demanded from him as a lone forward. But with dedication, hard-work and determination, Long managed to become a nightmare for any defence in the League to handle.

No, Long isn’t exactly what Puel wants from a forward in his system and yes, Long does have one hell of a challenge ahead of himself. But with the remarkable professionalism and attitude that he carries on the football pitch, who’s to say that Long can’t fit into Puel’s system in good time?

Nathan Redmond: patience is a virtue

When Nathan Redmond arrived at Southampton earlier this summer, it was clear for all to see what role he was expected to play at the club. Being the dangerous but inconsistent young talent that he is, he was purchased as an asset for the future and to provide competition to his red and white counterparts; but as we find Southampton nine games into their 2016/17 season, many have forgotten the clubs expectations and demands of the England U21 starlet.

Over the course of the season so far, Redmond has no doubt shown some moments of brilliance; there’s been some fierce shots, many darting runs and of course, a growing tally of broken defenders ankles. However, to only look at these moments wouldn’t be a true reflection of Redmond’s showings so far, as for all these positives, there have also been some areas to his game with some clear room for improvement. We’ve seen stages in games that have somewhat passed him by, chances that he has failed to bury with a lack of composure and moments where his confidence overrides his decision making. Contrary to the reactions of many fans however, this is all perfectly okay, and here’s why.

First and foremost, Redmond has been handed a role in the side that he never played during his time at Birmingham and Norwich City. Southampton boss Claude Puel appears to identify Redmond as either an inside forward or an attacking midfielder at the tip of the midfield diamond (behind the two forwards) and as some appear to be forgetting, this will involve countless alterations to his usual style. Whilst yes, in the short term we may be restricting Redmond’s performances, this is a change that Puel believes is worthwhile, and such changes take good time. For now, we must accept that Redmond is still learning when to press, when to work the channels and when to offer himself to his teammates.

Alongside this, if Puel had his way, then he wouldn’t have handed so much responsibility to Redmond during such an early stage of his learning. Over the summer, Puel and the Southampton board acquired the services of Sofiane Boufal for a club record fee, and it goes without saying that the Moroccan International was Puel’s top target over the summer window. Had it not been for the injury that Boufal picked up prior to his move, Redmond’s game time would have most likely been greatly reduced – the amount of pressure applied to him dropping in turn too. There has been an awful lot of pressure on Redmond to perform this season; pressure that the manager and board themselves would have never intended to apply to their young project.

What Redmond is in fact requiring however, is patience. The reason being is that despite breaking onto the scene in the 2011/12 Championship season with Birmingham, he is still just 22-years-old. To put it into perspective, that’s just one year older than Southampton duo James Ward-Prowse and Matt Targett, or even just two years older than Jake Hesketh. Personally, I have no doubt in my mind that if Redmond was from our academy, we would all be waxing lyrical about his start to the season so far.

Think back to Southampton’s first season in the Premier League and remember just how many games Adam Lallana would struggle to make an impact in, despite his obvious talent. At the age of 24 (two years older than Redmond) he was still continuing to work on his understanding of the game, but with the same patience that I want to see shown to Redmond, he has now become an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side.

As for an example over just how important understanding your new role is, take a look at Shane Long’s development under Ronald Koeman. Long joined Southampton with limited knowledge of how to operate as a dangerous lone centre forward, but come the end of the 2015/16 season, there was not a defence that the Irishman couldn’t trouble. Although patience and determination is required, history at Southampton Football Club certainly suggests that this is the place to learn and flourish as a footballer.

So far, Redmond has made errors in the same way that all of our academy graduates have too in the past, but as we’ve seen so many times, It’s how they learn and recover that turns them into the fine Premier League footballers that they are so promised to be. As a young talented English footballer, he’s in the safest hands possible at Southampton FC, so, let’s ensure that we give Nathan Redmond the same patience as if he was one of our own.