When asked of Southampton’s chances of success this year following a stellar performance in last year’s Premiership, many would have been forgiven for assuming the worst.
A mass exodus of talent had occurred following Mauricio Pochettino’s departure to Tottenham Hotspur – Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool and Luke Shaw to Manchester United seemed to suggest a fairly dramatic fall from their brief grace. However, this season under Ronald Koeman’s stewardship has seen them rise to second spot behind Chelsea whilst playing simple, passing, complete football in every game. Their goal difference is the best in the league and their consistency has drawn great praise. It has been a good time to be a Southampton fan.
Why has the exodus not harmed the club? When asked, the fans say that it’s the structure of the club that has made the difference and there’s no denying the fact that the production line has thrown out some real quality. The likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all come through the ranks at Southampton. The fans make a fair point that, unlike some other clubs, Southampton is not made by one individual.
But it will be disappointing today to learn that one of the key elements of Southampton’s success is leaving to join Tottenham Hotspur. Paul Mitchell will join Pochettino in a new role focused on acquiring and assessing talent. He will bring with him the techniques developed in his time at Southampton. And probably Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez as well.
And for Spurs – another chance for Daniel Levy to recruit a good recruiter. He’s tried with Damien Commoli and Frank Arnesen and now it’s Mitchell’s chance to work with Franco Baldini, in his role as Director of Football, to bring some quality to a team often criticised for their poor performance in recruiting quality to the club.