Can Southampton follow the success of Leicester City?


One of the overachievers of the 2015-16 season and which for a number seasons it is improving its results in the English Premier League is Southamption which achieved one of its best finishes in the last 30 years which is 6th and means a  direct place in the group stage of UEFA Europe League and it is their third highest finish since the 1983-84 when they finished as 2nd in the old First Division and 5th in the 1984-85 season under Lawrie McMenemy who after that left the club.After that only Chris Nicholl reached a 7th place in the 1989-90 season and 8th in the 2002-03 season under former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan.That were the only results of the club besides that Matt Le Tissier spent 16 years in the club in which he made 443 appearances and scored 161 which some of them are featured on the highlight reel of the Premier League as one of the best goals ever scored.However after Le Tissier’s retirement from the club in 2002,Southampton began its downward spiral and under George Burley it was relegated in the 2004-05 season from the Premier League into the Championship for the first time in 27 years and it began like Leicester City who was relegated a year earlier spending years in the football wilderness.It was that in the period of Southampton’s stay in the Championship that a 17 year-old Gareth Bale would play for the club in the 2006-07 season when Southampton together with Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak finished 6th and last place for the promotion playoffs which they lost their semifinal against Derby County which was promoted that season but immediately was relegated collecting just only 11 points in the 2007-08 season.Bale left the club and joined Tottenham,while Southampton went to its one lowest points of its history when in 2009 were relegated to the Division One and it took two seasons under current Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew they won the Football League Trophy (known as Johnstone’s Paint Trophy),but a 7th place  meant a miss at the final playoff promotion spot and the club would spend another season in League One,in the same time Ricky Lambert from Bristol Rovers was signed as well as Jason Puncheon who currently plays for Crystal Palace while Grzegorz Rasiak was sold to Reading.The next 2010-11 season would finally see the rise of Southampton back to the Premier League,besides that season Pardew was fired due to a bad start and Nigel Adkins was hired to guide the club to promotion,the Saints returned to the Championship after spending two seasons in League One and finishing 2nd behind Brighton & Hove Albion by just three points with Ricky Lambert scoring 21 goals in the season,interestingly that season Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his professional debut for the club before leaving like another product of Southampton’s football academy Theo Walcott for Arsenal.Under Adkins,the Saints continued their rise in their first season in the Championship since 2009,they achieved back-to-back promotion with a squad which featured Jason Puncheon,Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana who left the club for Crystal Palace,Manchester United and Liverpool in 2014 and Ricky Lambert who was club’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons and in the season when they were promoted Lambert scored 31 goals.In their first return to the Premier League in eight years in the 2012-13 season,Southampton spent until mid-January in relegation places and after the 2-2 draw against Chelsea. Adkins was fired and Mauricio Pochettino would guide them to safety and a decent 14th place while in the next season before he left for Tottenham,Pochettino improved the club and guided to an 8th place.While Southampton lost Shaw,Lallana,Lambert,Puncheon and Lovren,with Pochettino leaving for Tottenham,the club for the 2014-15 season it brought Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle from Twente and Feyenoord,Fraser Forster from Celtic and Shane Long from Hull City while Dutch football legend Ronald Koeman who had experience of coaching top Dutch clubs like Ajax and Feyenoord took over the bench and again Southampton rose on the table again finishing 7th while between matchday 5 and matchday 14 which were between mid-September to mid-December Southampton would switch between 2nd and 3rd place on the table and only a bad shape of results at the end of the season prevented them to rise for a place for the direct qualification for the UEFA Europe League group stage,while in the 2015-16 season again since 2010-11 season when they were promoted from League One saw an improvement with 63 points in the whole season and a direct qualification for the UEFA Europe League group stage thanks to a solid group of players,a excellent manager in Ronald Koeman and a club management who worked on the improvement on the club by good signings and investments in the club’s academy which in the past produced the likes of Gareth Bale,Theo Walcott,Adam Lallana,Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and others.With Leicester City’s title in the 2015-16 season the question is can Southampton pull a similar move in the near future and achieve the dream to win a Premier League title.In the 2015-16 season Southampton achieved a very strong finish when they in the last five matches of the season collected 13 of 15 points and during the season beat clubs like Manchester City (4-2),Arsenal (4-0),Chelsea (1-3) and Manchester United (0-1).Interestingly Leicester City and Southampton share many similarities besides that Southampton is located on the South Coast and Leicester is the club from the Midlands.Both Southampton and Leicester were relegated from the Premier League (Leicester in 2004,Southampton in 2005),both Leicester and Southampton were relegated to League One (Leicester in 2008,Southampton in 2009),both Leicester and Southampton were promoted back to the Championship (Leicester spent a single season and won League One,Southampton two seasons and was 2nd),both Leicester and Southampton were promoted back to the Premier League (Leicester in 2014 as the champion of the Championship League,Southampton in 2012 as 2nd).Leicester’s best result prior to winning the title was 2nd in the 1928-29 season,while Southampton’s was also a 2nd place but in 1983-84 season.With Leicester City’s title victory which inspire clubs like Southampton do achieve the dream and which is waiting for its big moment in English football.Southampton is the club on the rise in recent seasons after spending a large number of seasons in football wilderness and it is the club to watch in the next years,which has built a very solid foundation and like Leicester City it proves that success it cannot be bought but it has to be earned and one of the next clubs which can shock the football world is Southampton,but the question is can they do it?

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