Southampton are falling into the pattern of Premier League malaise that has plagued teams that have been unable to kick on in the top flight. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men recently suffered the embarrassment of the largest home defeat in the Premier League era, losing 9-0 at St Mary’s Stadium to Leicester City.
The result compounded their poor start to the new campaign and has put the Austrian under huge pressure. Southampton are backed in the football betting odds at 15/8 to drop back down to the Championship for the first time since 2012.
Unfortunately for the Saints they appear to be following a trend in teams that have been in the league for a period of time. Sunderland, Stoke, West Brom and Swansea City all had similar timespans in the top flight and eventually their succumbed to relegation to the second tier.
The Saints did have success for the initial period following their promotion under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino and then Ronald Koeman. Seemingly every signing they made was a hit, and even after losing key players and managers they were able to remain competitive in the top half of the Premier League.
However, there was always going to be a tipping point. You cannot lose players of the quality of Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk and always be able to replace them with similar talent. Recruitment was the downfall in Sunderland’s relegation as after narrowly avoiding the drop for several seasons they were relegated in 2017 under the tenure of David Moyes and then plummeted down to League One. Stoke followed the Black Cats in 2018 and appear to be following in the same trajectory, currently sitting bottom of the Championship and without a manager following the sacking of Nathan Jones. Again, failing to find the right players for their system was their primary issue along with the chopping and changing of the man in the dugout.
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Swansea and West Brom have managed to stabilise themselves in the second tier and are competing for promotion back to the Premier League. It’s not all doom and gloom even if the Saints do succumb to the drop. However, the club do face several key decisions in the near future if Hasenhuttl is unable to improve fortunes on the pitch. The Austrian is Southampton’s fourth permanent manager in three years. They have tried foreign coaches and a British one in the form of Mark Hughes to try to arrest the momentum that has the club battling for their survival at the bottom of the league, but nothing appears to be resolving their issues.
Money has been spent, although the new arrivals have not been able to hit the ground running. Danny Ings has six goals to his name and support around him has not been forthcoming. Southampton have all the characteristics of those sides that have seen their time in the Premier League come to an end. It may take something special for the Saints to avoid the drop this season after surviving the last two years by the mercy of worse teams around them in the table.