How Southampton won the January transfer window


Southampton being positioned in a Champions League place at the beginning of January is nothing short of remarkable. For a club that has graduated players like Wayne Bridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale from their youth academy, the Saints have struggled to compete at the highest level of English football.

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Southampton was relegated from the Premier League following the 2004-05 season.

The club spent eight seasons mired in the English Championship and English League One before winning promotion back to the Premier League in the 2011-12 season.

The club escaped relegation during the 2012-13 season, but thanks to it’s aggressive and technical style of play–fashioned by new manager Mauricio Pochettino–Southampton became a revelation last year.

Club veterans–Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin–who had helped Southampton win promotion were joined by a collection of young players that were either Southampton academy graduates–Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw–or astute additions –Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and Jay Rodriguez–to the club.

While their success brought a needed breath of fresh air to the Premier League, the top clubs of English football decimated the Saints’ first team and coaching staff.

During the 2014 summer transfer window, manager Mauricio Pochettino accepted the managerial job at perennial fifth place club Tottenham Hotspur; Lallana, Lambert, and Lovren were all purchased by Liverpool.

Youngster Calum Chambers left for Arsenal while Luke Shaw joined Manchester United. Finally, the backbone of the club, Morgan Schneiderlin submitted a transfer request.

It seemed the growth of Southampton had been permanently halted. The club were destined to struggle for survival in the Premier League.

Unexpectedly, Southampton was able to overcome these losses. Under the direction of new manager Ronald Koeman, Southampton consolidated and rebuilt their squad; synthesizing them into a unit that has far succeeded expectations.

Southampton have not dropped lower than fifth in the Premier League since their third match of the season.

In fact, the Saint have spent the majority of the season in the Champions League qualification places. The club has sat above Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Liverpool, all clubs who had signed their most valuable assets and were now their direct competition.

However, during the January transfer window, the same teams who they were fighting against for Champions League qualification, again made advances for Southampton’s best talent. Schneiderlin–the crown jewel of Southampton’s squad–was targeted by their competition as they looked to fill sizable holes in their respective midfields.

Nathaniel Clyne was targeted by Manchester United in an attempt to sign their second Southampton fullback in six months.

Even though he has been injured the whole season, Jay Rodriguez was targeted by Tottenham to bolster their attacking line.

With mounting interest for their top talents, Southampton could have easily cracked under the pressure and sold their best talent for a large profit.

Instead, their only sale was midfielder Jack Cork, who had started five matches for Southampton. The club also loaned out Jos Hooiveld and Artur Boruc, two players who have yet to play in a senior team match for Southampton.

The ability of Koeman and Southampton’s board to keep these players not only confirmed their status as a challenger for Champions League and European places. It also did not allow their direct competition to fix the flaws that exist in their respective rosters.

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  • Southampton completed the transfer window when they consolidated their roster by signing stand out leftback Ryan Bertrand to a permanent deal. Bertrand contributed greatly during his half season on loan from Chelsea, solidifing the clubs backline.

    Southampton was able to retain their talent and maintain their position through the January transfer window while dealing with a multitude of injuries to key players.

    Entering the transfer window tied for fourth place with Arsenal on 33 points and three points behind third place Manchester United. During the January, Southampton won three of their four matches. This included victories over Arsenal and away to Manchester United.

    After losing centerback Toby Alderweild and central midfielders Schneiderlain and Victor Wanyama on January 14th and 15th they were able to regroup and obtain a victory away to Newcastle United.

    Even with a disappointing home loss to Swansea City, the Saints emerged from the end of the January transfer window still in fourth place and tied with Arsenal ahead by one point on goal difference, still one point behind Manchester United, two points ahead of sixth place Tottenham, and four points ahead of seventh place Liverpool.

    With matches against Liverpool and Tottenham their only matches against their main competition, Southampton are positioned to end the season with a European place and are legitimate challengers for a Champions League place.