Its become a regular occurrence for all Southampton fans, summer after summer something dramatic happens. Be it manager, star players or even chairman, some one leaves. If Carling did ‘Meltdowns’ all they’d have to do is buy Southampton. So why are fans bemused when something happens, surely they are used to it? And why the panic?
If last summer is anything to go by, we have learnt that as a club, Southampton can survive when most would fail. After losing their chairman, manager and 5 key players all in one summer, Southampton defied the odds in what was a record finish season. So many other sides would have dealt battle with relegation until the death or booked their early ticket in England’s second division for the next season, but not Southampton.
Why is that? First up is the clubs board, the men behind the scene. The newly formed hierarchy of Les Reed and Ralph Krueger – installed in the 2013-14 summer exodus – have worked wonders; from the very start they made sure job of keeping everyone at the club calm and focused, whilst they rebuilt the club from top to bottom. That included the re-organisation of the clubs shaky finances, hiring a new manager and dealing with transfers, both in and out.
They did it the same way they run the club day to day, with due diligence and careful planning. Examples of this are everywhere around the club since it was bought by Markus Liebherr. These ideas implemented by the saviour of Southampton are what saved the club in troubled times, pushed the club for back to back promotions and spurred on continual growth. Everything is carefully planned and all situations are covered; the perfect example of the clubs organisation is having a list of potential candidates earmarked to step in for Ronald Koeman, if a surprise departure were to occur.
The recruitment and analysis building is another example of the clubs careful planning – better known as the “Black Box” – this is a room where match footage and statistics of potential signings are collated into one system. Staff are employed to watch players game in game out, carefully analysing every touch, ensuring they follow the clubs philosophy. This allows Southampton to set requirements that their transfer target must meet, resulting in what should theoretically be, a perfect fit. With such attention to detail is it a great surprise that Fraser Forster, Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic, Toby Alderweireld and Graziano Pelle hit the ground running?
Boasting such an incredible transfer record, Southampton fans can only see it paying off once more this summer. New recruits such as Cedric, Juanmi and Stekelenburg will have been researched months before their transfer to the South coast club. Any other signings brought in this summer will be done with the same precise planning, helping to ensure that both the club and player will have the best possible chance to thrive and be successful.
The only issue this is bringing to Southampton is that when the player reaches their peak, they move on, thus making Southampton a “Feeder Club”. This is a fact that many fans will simply refuse to believe, but why does the term feeder club have to be a bad thing?
Fans should look to sides such as Porto, Benfica and Ajax to realise that being a feeder club, can have its benefits. Like Southampton, Porto and Benfica get decimated year on year but it doesn’t affect their seasons, they still go on to win trophies and compete in Europe because of the way the club is run. They plan for every possible eventuality and earmark their next potential players, always cashing in on massive profits and thriving under this system. Selling high, buying low and then repeating the cycle is the way it goes. If they can do it season after season, why cant Southampton follow the same model? Why must their luck run out soon?
Seeing pundits and fans exclaim ‘it wont keep working, it will hurt them eventually’ is an argument with very little structure. Why cant it be a successful business model for Southampton when it is for other top European clubs?
Its not who you sell or who leaves that affects you, but how you deal with the aftermath. Like Porto, Southampton are careful and plan everything, throwing good money for players that can only be called panic buys, simply isn’t a feature of the club. Trying to keep players who dont wish to stay (Financial issues) and aiming to sign big players without real scouting or planning, doesn’t work. Tottenham and Liverpool proved just that and they are now fighting to cut their losses on deadwood players who were not suited to their club. Throwing big money at player after player would be financial suicide for Southampton, its not the Southampton way. Our philosophy and organisation is why fans should be confident that we will survive any situation and every player mass exodus. We are ready for the eventuality, we have a disaster plan.
A world class academy set up that produces on a consistent basis is hard to come by, Southampton are often mentioned by many in the same breath as Barcelona and Ajax *gulp*. The academy that has produced stars such as Bale, Walcott, Shaw, Lallana and Chambers is yet another reason for Southampton fans to not worry, better yet, there are still more to come. McCarthy, Targett, Reed, Ward-Prowse, Seager, and Gallagher among others look to have the world at their feet. Whether they stay and become club heroes or move on for the clubs financial gain, they will play a part in the Southampton’s future and help the Saints go marching onto the next step. They have become an integral part of our business model and being from the esteemed ‘Southampton academy’ means they will always go for a premium, their one of many back up plans the club has for when things get a bit rocky.
From what fans have seen over the past few years, and so far this summer with Reed and Krueger, we are in safe hands. If they can get us through the summer of hell last season, attract a manager of Ronald Koeman’s calibre and push us on to an improved 7th place finish, I’m sure they can do it again. They’ve proved with Morgan Schneiderlin that they can hold firm and put their feet down, they don’t bend at the knee by any means. That got us just a measly extra fifteen million, not too shabby.
Players will come in to replace the outgoing faces and their will be a few more to cope with what will be a busy, busy season thanks to the Europa League. Once this window passes our season will be in the hands of Koeman and his team to prove pundits, fans and bookmakers alike that we will march on.