Well it’s the silly season again, as always during transfer windows especially it seems fans are eager to be in the know with the goings on at Southampton Football Club and what the strategy is for approaching the window.
During our times of success in years not too far gone by, you would often here buzz words and catchphrases through the clubs senior figures like ‘The Southampton Way’ & ‘The Five Year Plan’.
Well with the recent sackings of both Les Reed and former manager Mark Hughes, what is the current strategy for the club on the all important football operations side of things? Well I know fans from near and far would like to know, and in this piece I am going to do my best to answer that for you.
Although the club has not publicly said much on the topic there is snippets from those with connections to make a good educated guess at it and by no means do I claim to be in the know (ITK).
Firstly under the previous regime, particularly when European football was achieved the approach from Les Reed and those he over saw was to have a larger sized first team squad to help cope with the added games and travel of the Europa League, something which current manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is keen to reduce as he has stated numerous times to the media.
Another approach was seemingly to have a smaller gap in the players wages between the highest and lowest earners within the first team squad, as well as tying them down onto long term contracts. Something which has come back to bite us now in certain individual players circumstances at least.
The reason these policies were implemented was to firstly help to create a more harmonised and positive dressing room atmosphere, and also to improve the clubs negotiating position should any of the bigger clubs come calling for any of our well performing players.
With that said under the new regime those aforementioned policies have seemingly changed, as I said earlier Hasenhuttl has been open that the size of the squad currently is too big for his liking so the initial emphasis in this January window was always going to be focused on outs rather than ins for that reason.
Once the wage bill has been reduced, it was hinted by Adam Leitch on a episode of the ‘Total Saints Podcast’ that the club could now change direction and instead target up to three at the maximum ‘superstar’ players on higher contracts as per the model of some other Premier League clubs.
Coming on to transfer targets for those being brought in to the club, the manager has stated in his press conferences he needs players with good ‘running abilities’ which would indicate those that are young with plenty of pace and energy to match his high intensity tactics that he is currently implementing on the players.
Another line Ralph has said on a number of occasions, is we will only bring players in with a view to helping the club in the long term implying that the policy to offer signings long term deals will remain as well as reassuring that targets will be on the younger side.
The recruitment process for a Director of Football is currently an ongoing one, no doubt who ever is appointed will have to operate within these parameters whilst weighing up their own personal ideas of how to approach these things.
Just before I wrap up this piece I feel it’s also important to point out that Hasenhuttl before dipping into the market, made it clear on his arrival that he realises the importance of the academy to the club and will try to find what he needs for the first team their as his initial port of call before asking the board to sanction any signings.
Obviously maintaining our Premier League status, will have a huge baring on how any of these new approaches take shape but I am confident we will stay up and expect the summer to be a fairly busy period for Southampton Football Club. January your get one possibly two new players arrive at most depending on outgoings I would say just as a setting of expectations scale.
Let’s have a strong finish to this season, the football is great to watch and whoever is on the pitch wearing the shirt, needs our total support while they are obviously now all putting a good shift in for us as fans.
Keep Marching in as always