Premier League 2013-14 preview: Southampton pressing higher with charismatic Pochettino
Of the three new clubs that were promoted last season, Southampton looked most likely to suffer relegation, after starting the season on a disastrous note. With only one win in 10 games, and 8 losses in the first 11, very few tipped them for survival.
They were at 19th place, when they met QPR at the Loftus Road in the month of November. The team that won successive promotions in the lower leagues, found life as a fish out of water at the top tier of English football. However, in the end, they managed to earn another year at the Premiership, finishing on 14th with five points clear of the bottom three.
Nicola Cortese, the club’s chief executive, took a harsh decision by replacing the popular-figure Nigel Adkins with Mauricio Pochettino. Though, he earned only four victories in 16 matches but three of those came against stronger oppositions like Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Defence should be the major worry for the Saints. Last season, they conceded a staggering 60 goals, though they’ve settled in nicely after early setbacks. In the first 10 matches, they conceded 28 goals, while only 32 goals were conceded in the next 28 matches. To bolster the callow defence, the highly rated Croatia defender Dejan Lovren has been signed for from Lyon for £6.8 million and a lot will be expected from the 24-year-old.
Pochettino has a young defensive set-up with Nathaniel Clyne, the promising right-back is only 22 and 18-year-old Luke Shaw is already seen as the future left-back for England.
The Argentine has made the best use of the energetic midfield that suits his style of playing pressing football. The midfield partnership of Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin made a strong impact. Schneiderlin especially grabbed the limelight having made the most tackles and interceptions in the league, also recorded an impressive 1,873 passes. The midfield will be further bolstered after the acquisition of Victor Wanyama from Celtic for £12.5 million.
Upfront, there is the ever reliable Ricky Lambert, who scored for England in his international debut against Scotland recently. The 31-year-old has scored 15 goals last season and provided nine assists and is well supported by attacking players like Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez, Gaston Ramirez and Jason Puncheon.
There is an air of optimism at St Mary’s and under the first full-season in charge of manager Pochettino, the Saints are looking to improve further and even break into top 10 as well.