'Southampton are punching well below their weight'


Is there such a thing as a lap of relief rather than one of honour? Well, that’s what we got at St. Mary’s yesterday from Mark Hughes and the team, while Manchester City celebrated an unprecedented season in front of their travelling fans.

14th May 2018

Gabriel Jesus’ winner in the final seconds felt like a kick in the teeth, but in the end both sets of fans were celebrating, just for very different reasons!

We live to fight another day in the Premier League, and the fact that we held the convincing champions until the final minute shows the potential this team has.

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It was a gritty, determined performance, the likes of which has been missing for most of the season. We limited a team that finished on 100 points and a +79 goal difference to just two shots on target and did enough to warrant a draw.

The performance and attitude of the players did much to erase the memories of what has been a pretty miserable campaign. 

Has this season been a success?

Given that just a couple of games ago we were favourites to go down and pretty much secured our Premier League status with a game to spare then, yes, the end result was a massive relief.

But all season we’ve punched well below our weight and have gone from regular top-half finishers to relegation fighters, all because the board got rid of a manager who had taken us to an eighth-place finish.

So, overall, no I’ve been massively disappointed with our performances this season. We really got out of jail at the end, and need to learn some harsh lessons ahead of next season.

Are you happy with your manager?

Hughes was drafted in to do a short-term job and he did it impressively. I want to see him offered the job this week so we can start the rebuilding process and get the foundations right for next season.

His post-match interview didn’t fill me with confidence though – he was quite evasive about his future, but I can understand that if he has not received any assurances.

I can’t see who else could come in and galvanise the team in the way he’s done. Sparky definitely gets my vote.

What should be the club's priority in the transfer market this summer?

On paper we have a promising squad but they have failed comprehensively to deliver as a team this season. With ex-Bayern Munich and Juventus players in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Mario Lemina I was really excited about our midfield but they failed to find their feet.

I’m convinced the potential is there though. What we need is another full-back to match Ryan Bertrand, a winger to partner Nathan Redmond, a centre-back with the presence of Virgil van Dijk, and a traditional centre forward in the mould of Chris Wood or Glen Murray.

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What do you want to aim for next season?

Let’s get back to where we were last season, before that ridiculous decision to let Claude Puel go.

Eighth place may have seemed a huge overachievement from an outsider’s perspective but Saints fans have always believed we have the potential to be fighting the likes of Leicester and Burnley for Europa League qualification.

The board got it wrong this season and we very nearly paid the price. The board needs to convince Hughes to stay and and develop a long-term strategy to make sure we don’t find ourselves in this situation again.

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