Southampton 2017/18 season preview: Will Mauricio Pellegrino succeed with the Saints?
Last Updated: 09/08/17 12:26pm
Will Mauricio Pellegrino succeed with Southampton? Read our 2017/18 season preview with expert views from Soccer Saturday pundit Matt Le Tissier.
Finishing position: Eighth (-2)
Total points: 46 (-17)
Europa League: Group stage
FA Cup: Fourth round
EFL Cup: Final
Top league scorer: Nathan Redmond (7)
Key stat: Southampton were on course for a return similar to 2015/16 but faded badly after their 3-2 EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester United and took just six points from their final eight Premier League games, winning only once. The run ultimately cost Claude Puel his job and only Leicester had a worse points swing among the sides who also played in the previous Premier League campaign.
Major ins: Mario Lemina (Juventus, £16m), Jan Bednarek (Lech Poznan, undisclosed).
Major outs: Jay Rodriguez (West Brom, £15m), Harrison Reed (Norwich, loan), Cuco Martina (Everton, free).
MATT LE TISSIER'S VIEW
Will Pellegrino be another smart appointment for Saints?
LE TISS: From the people that I've spoken to at the club, he's made himself pretty popular with the staff and the players. I haven't been to see them play yet so I'm looking forward to seeing what system he plays, but I'd imagine he'll be more popular than Claude Puel.
From the people that I've spoken to at the club, Pellegrino has made himself pretty popular with the staff and the players.
Matt Le Tissier
Which of their players are you most excited about watching?
LE TISS: I'd go with Manolo Gabbiadini in his first full season. His season was a bit interrupted with injury and it will be interesting to see him with a pre-season under his belt and linking up with Charlie Austin. They played together in France. I hink he'll try to get both in the team somehow.
What are the challenges facing the manager this season?
LE TISS: Well the main one will be getting the space in-between Virgil van Dijk's ears right if he stays. We've signed another centre-back in Jan Bednarek and Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens did well but it would be good to get Van Dijk right for another season and say he can leave in 12 months. The club seem to digging their heels in. It would not be a surprise if he went to Barcelona or Real Madrid but I don't see how he can go to Liverpool after what happened.
What are their strengths?
LE TISS: I think our strengths will probably lie in the way we keep possession of the ball, but we have to use that better in terms of penetration. We're a good technical team but I'd like to think the new manager will be more adventurous.
What are their weaknesses?
LE TISS: If Van Dijk doesn't stay or is still training on his own then that leaves us a little bit stretched at the back and we need Fraser Forster to have a better season. Last season wasn't his best and he needs to get back to the form of a couple of seasons ago.
Where will Southampton finish and why?
LE TISS: It's obviously incredibly difficult to break into the top six and Everton have invested heavily so I think eighth is realistically where Southampton would be aiming for and should get.