Cast you mind back two months ago and Southampton were a club in crisis, despite a successful season under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino, which saw them finish in a lofty eighth position; a serious over-achievement for the south coast club.
Tottenham came calling for Pochettino and an orderly cue was formed for Southampton’s star men. Luke Shaw left for Manchester United, Calum Chambers was picked up by Arsenal and Liverpool cleared up the rest with Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren all packing their bags for Anfield. Add to that the departures of Dani Osvaldo and Gaston Ramirez and the squad that impressed so much last season was looking seriously short of quality.
Enter Ronald Koeman; a manager who has a modest record – disappointing with PSV, AZ, Valencia and Benfica, but who has redeemed himself somewhat with an impressive spell with Feyenoord.
The Dutchman started to re-build and his first port of call was Holland, bringing in the impressive Dusan Tadic and the powerful Graziano Pelle – who both look like they are excellent acquisitions and could be potentially better than Lallana and Lambert, with Sadio Mane joining them in the last couple of weeks too.
Fraser Forster arrived from Celtic and Shane Long arrived from Hull for big money – both reportedly over the £10million mark. Steep on first inspection, but two players who are solid and will do their job week in week out. Into that bracket you can add Ryan Bertrand, who will never quite reach the top level that some people expected him to, but is a Premier League player all day long.
So, with a new team and a new manager in place the season was upon us, and if I’m honest I thought a season of mediocrity was on the cards. Bedding in eight new signings and having a manager who had never managed in the Premier League was hardly inspiring.
Fast forward a few weeks and Southampton are currently second in the Premier League and have already knocked Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup. Yes, we are only five games in, and yes, their defence may need some improving, but if the Saints can now conjure up a decent run and continue to impress going forward there is no reason why another eighth place finish cannot be achieved.
It shows that a good recruitment process pays massive dividends for the teams in the second tier of the Premier League and, as for Koeman, he could be the right man at the right time at St Mary’s.