Southampton season preview: Can Mark Hughes take Saints forward?
Last Updated: 06/08/18 9:08am
Can Southampton climb back towards the top half of the Premier League table under Mark Hughes?
Mark Hughes was rewarded with a three-year contract after guiding Southampton to survival last season.
The Welshman was not the most popular appointment when he was chosen to succeed Mauricio Pellegrino in March, but he did what was required and the club have backed him to continue what he started.
Southampton will hope to avoid another relegation battle in the campaign ahead, but reaching the heights of the top eight, where they finished in each of the previous four seasons, now looks like a tall order. With even newly-promoted sides Wolves and Fulham flexing their financial muscles, the competition looks tougher than ever.
How to replace Tadic?
Still, though, Southampton have worked hard to freshen a squad which lacked cohesion and spirit last season. Dusan Tadic, Guido Carrillo, Jordi Clasie and Sofiane Boufal are among those to have been shipped out, and there have been a clutch of interesting additions.
Angus Gunn is expected to take over from Fraser Forster having come in from Manchester City, while fellow new arrivals Mohammed Elyounoussi, Jannik Vestergaard and Stuart Armstrong are also expected to feature prominently in what's expected to be a new-look team.
"There's been a lot of change and change for the right reasons," said Hughes last week. "I think you have to be progressive both as a club and as a squad. A lot of hard work has gone into pushing us forward as a club, so hopefully we'll all benefit from that progress."
Matt Le Tissier's verdict
I would be quite content with a mid-table finish after the scare of last season. My nerves have just about recovered from that Swansea game! We have made a couple of additions to the squad and I think Manolo Gabbiadini has looked sharper than I've seen at Southampton. His movement looks really good so we just need to find him as much as possible from midfield as he'll do damage to teams.
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