Saints have all but knowhow
The five-year plan has been achieved in three years but Southampton have to learn lessons quickly if they want to avoid an immediate return to the Championship...
Nicola Cortese runs the show at St Mary's, funded by the late Markus Liebherr, the Swiss-German billionaire who he persuaded to buy the club three years ago. To what extent Southampton will be supported by Liebherr's £3bn estate is unclear but stability seems to be assured. The infrastructure already rivals most established Premier League outfits and the club is effectively debt-free after an overall investment approaching £60m. Cortese originally set out a plan to reach the Premier League in five years. It was achieved in three.
The ultra-positive Nigel Adkins might not be everybody's cup of tea with his cheesy cliches and motivational mantras but his personality has proved infectious on the south coast, his methods are bought into by everyone. A lack of Premier League knowhow might be an issue but his limited experience hasn't prevented him from delivering four promotions in six years since bursting on to the scene at Scunthorpe. The coming campaign will reveal more about his tactical ability. A Christmas Tree formation is reported to be the survival masterplan.
It's been a whirlwind few years for Saints fans, who can barely believe their luck. The club reached its lowest ebb in the summer of 2009 following relegation from the Championship but they barely had time to contemplate the implications of administration and a 10-point deduction before Liebherr had whisked them off their feet with untold promises. Since then, Southampton have won 47 out of 69 home league matches and maintaining this winning culture at a packed St Mary's could be instrumental to survival hopes.
It might be to the detriment of their survival chances in 2012/13, but Southampton are a club with one eye firmly fixed on the future. Ultimately, the aim is to become an established Premier League outfit with academy graduates making up at least half of the first team. The current squad is virtually devoid of top-flight experience and Adkins' summer transfer business has done nothing to address that. If Saints do stay up, it will be a triumph for the manager's motivational quality and his degree in psychology.
Jay Rodriguez (Burnley), Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace), Steven Davis (Rangers), Paulo Gazzaniga (Gillingham).
Dan Harding (Nott'm Forest), Radhi Jaidi (retired), David Connolly (released), Bartosz Bialkowski (Notts County), Harlee Dean (Brentford), Lee Holmes (Preston), Ryan Doble (Shrewsbury), Aaron Martin (Crystal Palace), Tommy Forecast (Gillingham), Jack Dovey (Eastleigh).
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