Cedric Soares targeted by Allegri’s Juventus

Coming off the back of Euro’s glory and a fine Premier League campaign, it’s no surprise to Southampton fans that Cedric Soares has already been linked with a number of European giants.

The latest reports have suggested that Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus are interested in the Portuguese International, with Dani Alves’s transfer to Manchester City looking all the more likely.

FC Barcelona were also believed to be monitoring Cedric earlier in the season, as their hunt for an attack-minded and natural full back goes on.

But this fine run of form for Cedric over the past 12 months doesn’t tell the full tale of his time on the south coast, and in my eyes, that is exactly why our board can’t allow such a transfer to formulate this summer.

Not too long ago under the reign of Ronald Koeman, there was a time when Cedric looked unable to adapt to the Premier League’s physical demands, and would find the opposite corner flag more often than Pelle’s head. There was clear talent inside the former Sporting fullback, but he needed to be nurtured and protected inside the team’s system in order to flourish.

So much so was the need for improvement that Koeman finished the 2015/16 season placing more trust in Cuco Martina, often consigning Cedric to the bench.

If we allow a single impressive season to be the benchmark for warranting a move away, then our transfer strategy is beyond flawed. I’m sure that the Southampton board hold the same stance, but it’s something that we shouldn’t even consider entertaining. It would show weakness to not only our fans and current crop of players, but also other teams that may wish to test our resolve with a bid.

Not to mention that at this moment in time, it’s looking increasingly likely that either one of Virgil Van Dijk or Ryan Bertrand will depart this summer. Losing two of our current backline in one single window would be one hell of a task for our recruitment department, and a cruel welcoming for Mauricio Pellegrino.

Don’t go forgetting that we’re still holding out for our Jose Fonte replacement too…

Finally however, there comes the hurdle of the reported fee that would be enough to prise Cedric away from our grips. £15M. Yes, you read that correctly.

£15M is the figure being thrown around by numerous sources, and quite frankly, I don’t believe that our board would pay even the slightest bit of attention to this offer. As many will know, Southampton operate a transfer strategy of buying low and selling high, but to accept such a bid would only complete the first half of the cycle.

When you consider the current rate at which Cedric has been developing and the fact that his contract runs until the summer of 2020, it would simply be mindless to consider a bid any time before the end of next season. 

Every goal from Southampton’s 2015/16 season

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.

Dusan Tadic: Should he stay or should he go?

According to reports at The Times, Dusan Tadic is believed to be a target for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool this summer.

This conveniently concocted transfer rumour isn’t what prompted me to start typing away however; Instead, it was the reaction to this news from many Southampton fans…  

This Premier League season has been a write off, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. The football has been dire for the most part, Claude Puel looks as if he will face the sack, and a number of players are certainly guilty of not matching expectations – perhaps none more so than Dusan Tadic.

With the way things are in the modern game, this has naturally caused a number of supporters to switch on the former fan favourite, claiming that they are open to let the Serb move on this window.

Whilst each fan is of course entitled to their own opinion, it baffles me that someone can talk about discarding a player with such clear and previously proven talent. Certain comments would have you fooled that the playmaker is rotting away as dead wood in our squad, when in truth, it’s simply been his first troubled season at the club.

Granted, a player of his talent should be doing far more in the final third, but does that mean we should give up on him just yet? Not a chance, and here’s why.

With the appointment of Claude Puel as first team coach last summer, there came a new vision for how Southampton should play their football. Puel adopted a number of systems during his first season as Southampton boss, trialling both a midfield diamond (442) and a conventional 4231, but the general approach was one of patience and disciplined structural organisation.

Puel encouraged his side to be comfortable on the ball and patient whilst in possession, searching for the perfect moment to cut through the opposition’s defensive lines.

This is a change in style that quite frankly, Tadic has found very little joy from, recording his worst Premier League season for both goals and assists

Where in the past Tadic would be tasked with the freedom to hunt for pockets of space and drive at the defence, he now finds himself surrounded by defenders with almost every touch of the ball. This is a symptom of Puel’s style of play, which hands the opposition the time to form two defensive banks as we look to break them down.

Whether this is Tadic’s failure to adapt, or even Puel’s failure to accompany Tadic in the side, It’s obvious to me that a patient style of football doesn’t bring the best out of Dusan.

Taking risks and playing with a high intensity has so often allowed Tadic to be at his best, but such a game plan was clearly discouraged by the Frenchman.

Evidence of this can be seen in previous seasons under Ronald Koeman, who played to Tadic’s clear strengths. During his debut season in the Premier League, Tadic fired in four goals and picked up seven assists, before recording seven goals and 12 assists in the following season.

Compare that to just three goals and five assists this season (despite starting six and three more games respectively) and it’s no wonder why he’s struggled this season.

It’s also worth noting that Tadic (24) has recorded more career Premier League assists than Alexis Sanchez, Raheem Sterling, Roberto Firmino and even Willian. A player of such quality doesn’t lose it all overnight.

There is however a criticism of Tadic that I can perfectly understand, and that’s his tendency to show a lethargic and disinterested attitude.

Tadic has never been one to run to the media and cause a stir, but this stroppy attitude on the field is one that doesn’t sit well with many fans – especially when the team is in a slump and needing inspiration.

Such a trait is infuriating to watch from the stands, but to tell the truth, it’s a common theme amongst attacking midfielders when they don’t receive the ball in the right areas. I’m not justifying his actions, but it’s certainly not unheard of. 

The final consideration for keeping Tadic is the potential for change this summer. If the Southampton board dismiss Puel as many are expecting, then a new manager will of course take charge, and this hands Tadic the opportunity for a fresh start.

We’ve seen first hand this season that new management can help talent individuals flourish. So if Cedric Soares and Oriol Romeu have been able to do so under Puel, what’s stopping Tadic from doing the same next season?

Whether Puel sticks around and decides to change his approach, or Southampton find new management, I’m certain that if we retain his services, we haven’t seen the last of Dusan Tadic at his very best in red and white. 

Southampton FC and VVD: It’s time to make a stand

With the potential sale of Virgil Van Dijk, the Southampton board could lose a damn sight more than just their best current player; they risk losing the trust of their fans.

According to Paul Joyce of the Times – one of the most reliable sources regarding Liverpool FC news – Virgil Van Dijk is set to snub interest from Manchester City this summer, in favour of a move to Anfield. Southampton have stated once already this summer that their club captain is not for sale, but Liverpool are set to test that resolve with an offer that could reach £60M.

Reports from the Daily Echo have since claimed that Southampton have requested that the Premier League investigates Liverpool over their “illegal” approach for the Dutchman, but the following point still stands. Regardless of who the interest is coming from, the Southampton board need to stand strong this summer.

Viewed objectively from a neutral’s perspective, it could be seen as yet more fine business from Les Reed and co (£60M is superb in fact). But I’ve got to say as a fan who well and truly loves his football club, I’m sick and tired of having to justify departures to myself, let alone anyone else, each and every summer.

I tell myself that the money is good for the club and that it’s hard to turn down such an offer, but there’s far more to football than positive balance sheets. For once, could the board please deliver on their comments and previous promises.

Now by no means am I stating that Southampton’s business model of buying low and selling high should be abandoned; it would be simply ridiculous to scrap a model that has helped our club to stand where it is today.

There comes a point however, when the board need to remember that this is a football club, and not just a business.

This business model has allowed us to find some of the most exciting gems in football, and it’s vital in preventing our club from ever facing the darkness of 2009 again. But it needs to be followed with moderation, and the reason being is that in football the board aren’t just managing finances and business, they’re also responsible for the emotions of loyal lifelong supporters.

Time and time again us Southampton fans have been promised that we will “build for next season”, or even retain the services of a particular player. The only exceptions that spring to mind are the board’s handling of Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer of 2013, and Victor Wanyama in 2014.

As mentioned before I completely understand why this business model has to be followed, but once every now and again, it need’s to be put aside. Virgil Van Dijk has five remaining years on his contract, whilst also currently assuming the role of club captain; so please, tell me now why our board shouldn’t stand strong and demand another season from the Dutchman.

Not only are we clearly in what many would consider a strong position to deny such a transfer, but it’s not like a similar offer won’t come along again next year.

Given that he’s arguably the most sought after defender in the Premier League and will have four years remaining on his contract by the end of next season, I certainly don’t expect his value to fall. You could even argue that it has the potential to rise.

Schneiderlin stuck around for another season after wanting out, and soon after received his “dream move” to Manchester United in return. If Van Dijk does the same, then who knows which European giant could come calling next summer…

A series of poor decisions at the top of a club can cause uproar amongst fans, leading to a divide between those running the club and those supporting the club. It’s worth remembering that behind any successful football club is the unwavering support of their fans, and for this reason, I will be distraught if we sell Van Dijk this summer.

With fans becoming increasingly wary of emotionally investing into Southampton FC, I worry about our club losing it’s identity and becoming yet another soulless Premier League side. With the chance to refuse the sale of Virgil Van Dijk this summer, we have an opportunity to prevent that from happening.

Charlie Austin’s fitness will be key in our upcoming season

Many Southampton fans are unhappy with how the 2016-17 season turned out, but should they be? There were many clubs that performed below par last season, and none more so than the former Champions Leicester City. Other teams like Manchester City, Stoke City and West Ham will all be looking for a big improvement on last term too. 

Southampton manager Claude Puel has come under criticism, but it’s kind of weird how a successful season comes back to haunt a club. Southampton came 6th in the league in the 2015-16 season and finished on 63pts. In the major football betting markets last season, the betting firms were clearly not fancying the Saints to repeat that. The problem that Claude Puel faced was twofold.

Had the Saints Peaked?

The fact is that Southampton are not a “top six” club despite coming 6th in the 2015-16 season. Their financial resources are far behind the traditional big six in England, so it was always going to be difficult for the Saints to replicate their previous form. Secondly (and something that went largely unnoticed) every single team in the top six finished last season with more points than the previous season.

This acted like a syphon on the rest of the division and led to many clubs being compressed in terms of points totals. An absolutely staggering 94pts more were earned by the top six clubs in the 2016-17 season, than in the previous year. This is a factor that must be taken into consideration when we look to assess Puel’s first season in the top flight of English football.

Southampton Faded

Many Saints fans were unhappy at how they finished the campaign, but they were not the only club to tail off towards the end. Southampton finished the season winning only two form their final nine, and it’s safe to say that such form is worrying for onlooking fans. However, there are a number of key factors that would have no doubt played their part in this poor run.

The shoulder injury to Charlie Austin was a big loss to the Saints, having fired in six goals in just thirteen appearances wearing the red and white stripes. A big negative for the Southampton fans over the 2016/17 season was their lack of goals overall, and this is an area that Puel (if he stays beyond this season) needs to correct.

Austin finished the season as the clubs highest scorer, and that is staggering considering he spent five months out injured. It’s clear that the Southampton fans expect greater contributions from players such as Shane Long, Jay Rodriguez and even Manolo Gabbiadini to some extent.

Long is a hit and miss striker and his stats are there back that up. Just 18 goals from 89 appearances won’t give opposing defenders sleepless nights before a game. As for Rodriguez, there are glimpses of his former self as games go by, but to tell the truth, he’s never been the same since that injury in 2014.

Gabbiadini arrived in the January transfer window from Napoli, where he scored 15 goals from 56 games, and a grand total of 42 goals during the entirety of his time in Italy. He kicked off life on South coast in immense form, scoring six from his first four appearances, but then ended the season on that same tally.

Do the Saints have the quality they need?

The fact is that Southampton clearly cannot go out and buy the top quality strikers like other clubs can. They need to stumble on a new “wonder kid” or another gem using their black box method to recruitment, and whilst the jury is still very much out on just how good Gabbiadini is, fans will want to see a greater involvement from the Italian come next season.

This makes Charlie Austin key to their chances of a successful year in the 2017-18 season. Austin has scored 93 goals in 183 games for Burnley, QPR and Southampton, and that goal every other game strike rate is exactly what the Saints need. They can’t just go into next season relying on Austin though, and they need better back up beyond Gabbiadini. Is it time for both Long and Rodriguez to move on?

Free-flowing attacking football has been engraved into the DNA of Southampton Football Club in recent years, and in order for fans to look back on the 2016-17 season as a strong building block, that needs to be corrected; I’m certain that Charlie Austin will play a vital role in doing so. 

Saint-Etienne optimistic in acquiring Claude Puel

Ligue 1 outfit Saint-Etienne remain confident in securing Claude Puel this summer, but only in the event of Southampton dismissing the Frenchman.

The latest update regarding Puel’s current situation on the south coast was reported by France Bleu, who claim that whilst Puel hasn’t been in touch with Saint Etienne personally, his lawyer has been acting on his behalf.

With thanks to Patrick Kendrick’s translation, we are able to bring you the details of this France Bleu report.

The article states that Puel rejected an offer to take over from Christophe Galtier just two weeks ago, but Saint Etienne are now preparing a revised offer; it’s been said that Puel is far more interested to hear what Les Verts will offer this time round.

On top of potentially receiving a salary in the region of €3.7 million a year, the former Nice boss will also have the luxury of being nearer the south of France – a destination that he loves to visit during his time off.

Not to mention that Saint-Etienne themselves are willing to embrace new ways of playing, allowing Puel to take over a similar project to that of his time at Lille and Nice.

The only reported stumbling block between the two parties appears to lie with Puel, who wishes to take over control of all aspects at the club whilst in charge. If Puel becomes available, then Saint-Etienne will have to budge if they want to secure their top target.

From the outside looking in, this looks to be a far more comfortable proposition for Puel, who in truth, has had a torrid time in winning over the Southampton fans and adapting to the Premier League.

The bottom line however is that with Puel unlikely to leave of his own accord, any chance of a shuffle in management this summer starts and stops with the Southampton board.

Over to you, Les.


Lap of depreciation

Last Sunday was the first time that I haven’t stayed for the lap of appreciation in my 16 seasons as a season ticket holder, which speaks volumes (I did have to get my eldest back to Uni, but that wouldn’t have stopped me before).

This was no reflection on the players, who I feel have played well individually and within the framework that they are presented. They have been professional throughout, but obviously aren’t enjoying the football.

If I’m being honest, it was an element of lethargy from me (probably derived from the style of play that I’d just witnessed again) and the fact that I had no desire to see and hear Puel being abused. He comes across as a reasonable character, professional, knowledgeable and with a clear style that he has communicated very well to the players.

From other fans perspective on the outside looking in (and no doubt with the benefit of hindsight, from our perspective in due course) his results have matched and exceeded his start of season brief – top half finish, cup final appearance and blooded youngsters. However, it’s passionless football. I’ve left St Marys of late without any emotions whatsoever. It’s effective, functional but not entertaining and that’s in a league (top 6 aside) that has been poor this season.

Yesterday was a missed opportunity to sign off the season with a smile, which makes me think he’s knows his fate already. All too often, the switched ball to an overlapping full back was on, but the full back was shackled / the midfield drove forward into a static wall (Austin(!) or Gabbi aside) of Saints and stoke players / the ball was worked to the goal line and cut back, to where a midfielder should have been, but wasn’t / the ball played into a central midfielder on the edge of the box had to be stopped and then returned to the deeper lying midfielder, as no runs were being made beyond. That wasn’t a case of unwilling, disinterested or lazy footballers, it was obviously the cautious system they were playing to.

As others have mentioned, in the second half of the last game of the season, at home, losing 1-0 to a pretty unadventurous Hughes side and with nothing to lose, why not try Austin and Gabbi together? Why, because it doesn’t fit the system.

Most worrying though is that the players don’t look happy. Bertrand is a classic case. He’s never been found wanting before, nearly always a 8/10 + in my books, but he’s looked frustrated and dare I say bored of late. He’s been professional but can’t wait to get off the pitch at the end of every match. Yesterday, at times he looked like he was wary of getting any knocks etc (protecting a move?).

With the lack of any real passion on the pitch (Oriel aside of course – THAT tackle!!) transferring to the stands, the inevitable happens in that the silence is only broken by moans and jeers (Forster, Targett and Tadic being the most recent recipients).

And so starts a downward cycle…

I don’t want to be negative (8th place, cup final, Europe, League 1) but it’s becoming difficult not to and I’m therefore convinced that something has to change.

One thing won’t change though …I’ll still be there, in my lucky pants, week in, week out ! COYR!

Preview: Southampton vs Manchester United

Over the course of the Premier League season so far, Southampton have failed to pick up three points against a single side in the top six. Tomorrow night however, Southampton will be given one last chance to break that record as they prepare to face Manchester United at St Mary’s.

To find out more about our upcoming opponents, I spoke with Jack West of Manchester United panel

Just how important is the Europa League final now that top four is out of the question?

In my view, it will decide how we judge this season, but I’m unimpressed with where we are. I’ve not been a fan of putting all of our eggs in one basket for the last two months or so, in the sense that Jose has solely invested in the Europa League. We could have been in the top four. We dropped silly points at home against the likes of Hull, Burnley, West Brom and Swansea, which would see us edge into that bracket. Not only this, but we can’t see another Manchester United season without Champions League football. Not only would the defeat cost the club about £50m, but we would find it a real challenge to sign the world class players that we need to allow us to compete with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich etc; that is where we should be. If we win next Wednesday, I would brand this season a huge success; two trophies and Champions League football in Jose’s first season would be a huge step, but goodness me haven’t we made it difficult for ourselves at the best of times.

As an outsider looking in, what is your perception of Southampton this season?

I think Southampton are one of the most respected and admired sides in the league. Not just down to the attractive football they can play at times, but the way that they have invested their money after their initial financial scares. A state-of-the art training ground, beautiful facilities, and a strong investment in youth has helped to mould some of the top players in the English game. But you’re also respected for signing players for a reasonable fee, developing and selling them on at a premium. My one negative, however,  is that I believe you need to be more stubborn and competitive when it comes to the transfer market. The majority of them have annoyingly moved on to better things, but Les Reed and his team really need to stick there neck out this summer; it’s a big window ahead if you want to keep the likes of Van Dijk in your side. As for the football, I think there is a problem with your lack of cutting edge in front of goal, and in recent weeks, the football has been dull too.

If you could take any Southampton player, who would it be and why?

I think you know what’s coming here… It has to be Virgil Van Dijk. Prior to his injury, he was quite easily the best centre-half in the league alongside Toby Alderweireld, and he would be the perfect partner to accompany Eric Bailly at the centre of the United defence. His presence is certainly felt and his distribution out of the back is exceptional. Daley Blind possesses this trait, but Van Dijk has the build and physique to go with it. Van Dijk is such an excellent all-rounder.

Who has been your player of the season?

It’s got to be Oriol Romeu. When he’s fit and Van Dijk and Gabbiadini aren’t, he’s got to be the first name on the team sheet. Finally found a club where he can nail down a first team spot, and boy is he reaping the rewards with solid performances on the pitch.

If you were Claude Puel, how would you set your side up to beat Manchester United?

Well, its two sides that have found scoring at home a real challenge this campaign, but I feel Puel should set up exactly how he did against Liverpool. The only difference, however, is that you should set out initially to absorb all of United’s pressure; we love a lot of possession but when we can’t find a way in behind the defence, we really struggle. Once United become increasingly stressed and their defence becomes stretched, make sure you have plenty of pace going forward and charge at United on the break. That’s certainly your best bet in my view.

Who do you expect to be your key man tomorrow night, and which Southampton player scares you most going into the game?

It’s really hard to tell who Jose will play and who he will rest tomorrow, but I’m hoping to see Martial start again – he was our best player by a country mile against Spurs, and on his day is a defender’s nightmare. The lad can groan all he wants but he is far more effective on the flanks as opposed to the centre; his pace and tricky footwork could cause Saints defenders real problems. The Southampton player that scares me the most on his day is Manalo Gabbiadini. We saw what he can do against us in the EFL cup final and when provided with service, is almost unplayable when he fancies it. His off the ball runs are exquisite as well, and this is something a little more rare to find in the English game of late.

And finally, what do you think the score will be?

Southampton haven’t been clinical at home enough this campaign, and United have been far better away from home when it comes to scoring goals. However, United will rest players due to the Europa League Final next Wednesday, and ultimately neither side really have anything to play for. We also love a draw so I feel with all of these factors, the game has draw written all over it. 1-1.

An in-depth review of Claude Puel’s first season as Southampton boss

Footballs a funny old game, Isn’t it? If you asked any Southampton fan at the start of the season if they’d take a top half finish and a chance in the League Cup final, they’d bite your hand off for it. Yet despite this, Claude Puel is dividing opinion amongst fans, with pressure piling up as each game passes.

It’s already been well documented in the media that the higher forces at Southampton FC will look to review Puel’s position come this summer, and with that in mind, I’d like to be the voice of reason for the Frenchman’s first season with the Saints.  

Kicking things off with the positives of our season seems like a logical beginning, and with that, there is really only one place to begin; the League Cup final.

The bottom line here is that in one single season, Puel has done more for Southampton FC than Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman ever achieved.

Granted, the direction of the club under both of those managers certainly had a more positive feeling, and it’s undeniable that their Premier League campaigns were a damn sight more thrilling. However, I know I’m not alone in saying that day at Wembley was better than anything I’ve experienced since our return to the Premier League.

On top of this, Puel’s management has helped a number of bit-part/underperforming players to become dependable Premier League regulars. Oriol Romeu picked up both fans and players player of the year, Maya Yoshida was awarded the president’s choice award, whilst Cedric Soares has finally become the technical full back that we thought we purchased. Meanwhile, even Nathan Redmond is having the greatest season of his career so far.

This moves me swiftly onto the Frenchman’s willing nature to integrate youth into the first team. This season alone, Jack Stephens has been given the chance to prove his worth on a weekly basis, whilst Sam McQueen has picked up 13 PL appearances and starred against Inter Milan. Not to mention that both Josh Sims and Jake Hesketh played vital roles in helping Southampton reach the League Cup final. Creating a path from the academy to the first team is always a welcome characteristic as a Southampton manager.

But in comparison to Southampton’s previous seasons under Pochettino and Koeman, this is where the positives run out. Beyond Southampton’s thrilling cup run, that night in Milan, and the opportunity of watching some academy products flourish, there’s an over-riding feeling amongst fans that we’re going backwards under Puel…

Based on our current crop of players and years gone by, bravery and expression on the field has gone hand in hand with football on the St Mary’s turf. But under Puel, it’s been anything but that.

Time and time again this season, our attacking play has been static, predictable, and quite simply, dull. Southampton currently boast the 4th worst home record in the league, and have scored the 3rd least goals at home; one more than Hull and Boro with 16, and 8 less than Burnley’s 25. For crying out loud, even relegation fighters Swansea City and Crystal Palace have outscored the Saints.

Combine this with the fact that Southampton have failed to beat a single top six side in the Premier League this season, and there are certainly questions to be asked regarding Puel’s overly cautious tactics. Questions that fans want answered now.

It’s not just results that are frustrating fans either. On numerous occasions this season Puel has shown inconsistencies with his team selections; when players such as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Jordy clasie have put in promising performances, they are instantly demoted to the bench the following week. Yet the wasteful Dusan Tadic appears to currently be untouchable from being dropped, or even substituted. This ties in with Puel’s negative in-game decision making, by which he’s shown zero tactical flexibility to force a goal with his substitutes.

These factors alongside Puel’s uninspiring mannerisms have created a toxic divide between the fans and the manager.

My one standout worry, however, is that Puel appears to have lost the players, and this is ultimately where my final decision on the Frenchman’s future lies. If Puel has the players on board with his ideas and expectations, then I believe that he deserves to begin the forthcoming season as Southampton manager.

But If the players are unmotivated and struggling to buy into Puel’s management style, then I believe that the board should cut their losses this summer. The reason being is that whilst Puel appears to be a knowledgeable coach and tactician, he doesn’t seem to command respect from his players or even appear to be much of a man manager. Without either of these vital characteristics, I seriously worry about how Puel could possibly wrestle back control from such a situation.