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Saints Getting back To Basics In The Transfer Market.
Friday, 22nd May 2020 09:37

If we take a look at where Saints have succeeded and failed in the transfer market over the last decade then a pattern emerges, when we spend big we often spend badly, but that looks set to change.

Over the years going right back to Ted Bates in the 1950's Saints success has been built by finding those players in the transfer market with a hunger and a desire to succeed rather than spending big money.

The problems only seem to arise when we go for so called big signings, when we returned to the Premier League in 2012, big signing Jay Rodriguez was a success at £6 million, as where more modest purchases Steven Davis and Nathaniel Clyne, but when we splashed the cash on Gaston Ramirez and then ditched Billy Sharp for Mayuka, we were less successful.

The following year we blew £15 million on Dani Osvaldo and a pattern was emerging.with Dejan Lovren at £8 million turning out to be good business.

In 2014 we had our fire sale, we spent the money well, mainly on players who had a point to prove like Ryan Bertrand or unknowns like Dusan Tadic, Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle.

The problems arise when we have money to spend and spend big, not surprisingly football supporters want to see big signings and not player they have never heard of and I have said this many times, a club like Saints can spend £30 million, but they won't get a £30 million player.

Look at the money we have wasted over the past 4 years, from Guido Carrillo to Moi Elyounoussi Mario Lemina , Jannik Vestergaard to Sofiane Boufal, these 5 players have seen a transfer outlay of around £90 million, yet they have delivered very little.

I haven't even mentioned the likes of Fraser Forster or Wesley Hoedt who have given us some value for money or Angus Gunn, Moussa Djenepo or Che Adams who have not yet had the time to show us decisively either way.

A club like Saints cannot spend that amount of money on signings that fail and still have the money to bring in new blood, the problem they have had now is that these players are preventing us moving on until we get in some money in transfer fees and wages off the payroll.

So we have to get back to basics and every indication is that we are doing just that, Les Reed was successful for a while and should be given credit where credit was due, but for some reason he took his finger off the pulse and perhaps believed his own hype.

When we upped the transfer fees as I have shown we have generally not got value for money, when we have spent around £10 million and even less we have got in some great players, Nathan Redmond, Jan Bednarek, Pierre Emille Hojbjerg,

Some players are seen differently, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Nathan Redmond still have their critics, whereas Manolo Gabbiadini enjoys great status due to his two goals at Wembley, take away those goals and the 4 he got in his first 3 Premier League games and you have a striker who would score only 7 times in his remaining 48 league appearances, although the goal at Swansea was priceless.

The Southampton Way was never about paying out big money, but discovering the up and coming players and bringing them on, then selling them on and keep repeating the process, some don't like to hear it, but it is the only way we can compete.

Our struggles have been because we have veered from the track and followed the lead of clubs who spend big but just get overpriced players who are chasing money not glory.

On one hand it is worrying to here Hojbjerg talk about big clubs and winning things, but that is the type of player we want, players who fight for ou shirt because they want to play at the highest level, when have you hears Mario Lemina say that, the only thing he wants at the highest level is his bank balance.

So it is good to look at the players that Saints are now being linked with, not the big club fringe players like Lemina and Carrillo, but those succeeding for the lesser clubs in Europe, those who have forsaken the prestige of a big club preferring game time elsewhere.

The latest to be linked is Paris FC prospect Noe Masevo in the sights of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side according to FootMercato, we can also add a Ligue 2 midfielder to Italy U21 international Gianluca Scamacca, Porto centre-back Diogo Leite and Strasbourg powerhouse Mohamed Simakan, as well as several other players with a little more experience who have made their mark and are now ready to move on to the Premier League.

Perhaps we won't always get it right, no club ever does, these days it is about your ability to absorb failures and move on to the next signing and for Saints at the moment we are limited in what we can do because of the dead wood still on the books.

Hopefully this summer we can get some of those out permanently, then we can get back to doing what we do best, buying selling and buying again.

Some say we are a selling club, that is wrong, what we are is a Trading Club, we need to keep selling to keep buying and moving forward, when the selling stops then we are in trouble.

Photo: Action Images

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saintmark1976 added 11:11 - May 22
A thoughtful well put together piece Nick, thanks.

Particularly pleased to see that you make mention of Mr Reed by acknowledging what a considerable numbers of us were saying previously.He certainly did "take his finger off the pulse" as you put it.

In reference to us returning to transfer basics. I suspect that 2020 will be viewed by all professional clubs as a watershed year for football and its finances. The days of ever increasing ridiculously high transfer fees and players weekly wages will hopefully be a thing of the past. They can't possibly be immune from what appears to be the upcoming world economic depression.


wessexman added 13:03 - May 22
"The Southampton way" is a good idea in theory but it has to be successful every season. We seem to have the same approach regarding managers. Yes, we cannot compete with moneybags, vulture top 6 clubs. Clubs who can throw silly money about. clubs, some of whom tried to use the furlough scheme to pay their staff, but are still linked with £ 50 - 60 - 70 M players. As supporters, we have had to put up with "The Southampton way" and, to be fair, to some extent we have no choice. But, the scale of our selling and the arrogant way the club seems to think they have re-invented the wheel, is astonishing. We were lucky with Koeman and we managed to survive because of HIS input. Luck will run out.....it always does. Let us hope the club give Ralph a fair bit of autonomy.... The managers since Koeman were nothing but figureheads while certain individuals thought they knew best. Should Raplh be messed about......god help us.

kevleykeegle added 14:52 - May 22
Other than the big six (and even they don't always get what they planned for), what team is successful every season? How do you judge success? Doesn't every side have good, bad and indifferent seasons? I've seen great saints sides and poor ones; great managers and managers I'd rather forget. I want Saints to be better every season, but my expectation is always that we play exciting football, take some scalps and avoid relegation. I first went to the Dell with my Dad back in 1968, and have supported them ever since. The only thing I've consistently had a problem with is the arrogance of many of their fans. They are so quick to judge. Look at how they treated Jack Stephens - absolutely pilloried by the overwhelming majority of fans - God knows how he must have felt coming out onto the pitch - and yet he continued to develop his skills and is now starting to fulfil his early promise. He's developed into a good player despite the supporters, not because of them. And he's not the only player constantly harangued. I can think of so many over the years. Southampton fans are the worst in the league - they are so negative and depressing.

underweststand added 20:51 - May 22
Some good points in your article Nick. I've written many times that for all the good that Cortese did in upgrading the club's administration, he really should have kept out of the transfer market, and all the big money buys his Euro contacts lured him into signing cost us a fortune. The Squad that saw us win the JPT, AND get two promotions cost barely £5 million- for the lot, but Ramirez, Osvaldo, Mayuka and Forran set the club back over £30 million (at 2013 prices ), and none of them did anything to enhance the clubs success.

Apparantly, Cortese tried to dissuade Alan Pardow from spending £1 million on Rickie Lambert, and vetoed a deal for MIchail Antonio... as Reading wanted £2 million for him.
I've done the stats. many times over - back to the 1960's - and the number of "big money signings" that Saints made who can be deemed as "successful" can be counted on the fingers of one hand, whereas the " more modest fees " are often very good buys and definitely give more value for money.

d_ember added 00:17 - May 23
A 4m signing is not a failure whatever happens. Charlie Austin, a great striker beset by injury and a suspect attitude, but like Billy Sharpe scored some notable goals.

Even at £10m in todays market if we sign a "dud" then it not a huge issue, but sign the likes of Elynoussi, Forster and some others for the money mentioned and we are paying $75k a week plus - these guys have not delivered a return on that investment. Ramirez was an enigma who may have profitted in todays side, pulling the levers as a number 10 on the break, but not the battling back midfielder under the turgid regimes that followed Koeman.

Peterx added 09:46 - May 23
I still think we could get something out of Elyounoussi. He still wants to play for us and his attitude has always been good. I would like him to get another crack.

To me the jury is still out on Vestegaard, as he is still very much part of the setup and I don't believe his attitude can be questioned..

Boufal is still at the age where he can do something and he improved this season but off a low base. Although he has had plenty of chances I still think we can get some mileage there. If we can stop him drifiting in and out of games when he starts he could still make it.

In general I think the article is right though, get the players with attitude, hunger who want to succeed and no give-up in them. That's why I rate Armstrong as one of our best buys for a while.

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