PL Stories - South Korean starsNov 30
Southampton Fan’s Premier League Season Preview
The Saints flattered to deceive for large parts of last season but can Ralph Hasenhuttl use the club's FA Cup semi-final appearance as a springboard for success?
Ahead of a brand new season of Premier League football on BT Sport, we spoke to fans of each and every team about their expectations for what lies ahead over the next nine months.
Talking all things Southampton, BTSport.com sat down with Mark Harpur, chair of the Southampton Disabled Supporters Assocation, to get his thoughts on the south coast outfit's chances for the new campaign.
There’s a slight feeling of trepidation going into the new season. I had hoped we could keep hold of Danny Ings... so to be honest, I would be happy with a mid-table finish.
I’m looking forward to seeing our new signing, Roman Pereaux. He was named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year last season and I think there’s big expectation on him to come here and perform.
I’m hoping he can be the catalyst for us to play a more attacking brand of football. We need to go out with intent, attacking teams, putting them on the back-foot - that’s when we’re at our best, rather than being passive with the ball.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has a very distinct way of playing but he needs to be prepared to use a Plan B or C because we were a little one-dimensional last season.
His philosophy is very high energy, asking the full backs to get up and down the pitch and a few of our players struggled with that.
My greatest concerns is at centre half. Jannik Vestergaard is fine as long as the ball is in front of him but once the ball is played in behind he looks all at sea. So I wouldn’t mind selling him and bringing in a new centre back.
To play the way Ralph wants to play, he needs centre halves who understand their position on the pitch so they are not going to get found out. But I have high hopes for Mohamed Salisu and hopefully he will have a strong first season.
Most important player
Ings was invaluable in terms of the goals he scored. But the main man for us is James Ward-Prowse. I’m hoping he can use the disappointment of missing out on the Euros as motivation to prove people wrong.
I have no idea why Gareth Southgate didn’t take him. Whether it’s a corner, free-kick or penalty, Ward-Prowse is the man you want on the spot.
It’s also the energy he brings to the side. He’s not necessarily the quickest but he gets up and down the pitch so well and dictates games.
As a captain he’s not the most vocal on the pitch but he leads by example in the way he conducts himself and as a Saints fan I’m very pleased to have him. Heaven forbid he leaves this season!
Nathan Tella. Unfortunately there isn’t much talent coming through the youth ranks at the moment, despite the reputation of our academy.
Tella is the one bright spark, who has progressed well, and he will be in and around the first-team squad come the start of the season.
He’s usually a right-sided winger but towards the end of the season he was being played in the front two, so he’s very versatile.
I’m excited to see if he can kick on. He’s 22, so now is the time he’s got to start making an impact on the team.
What I’ve missed the most
The camaraderie you get from going every week has been a comfort in my life for many years.
Community is so important to me and that’s what Southampton Football Club is: one big community.
I’ve been a Saints fan since I was eight years old and the friendships and relationships I’ve formed in that time are what I cherish the most.
We made a really strong start last season but we just don’t have the strength in depth and we’ve let go of more players than we’ve brought in.
I just hope we have enough strength in key positions to keep us out of trouble.