Southampton Football Club, commonly known as the Saints, only seem to get better as a club since They were founded by members of the St. Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association in 1885, as they now sit in the Premier League after climbing up the divisions. The Saints have one domestic trophy in their cabinet, and have a reputation of building up young talent and selling them on for profit, but continue to improve year after year. The quality of their squad is emphasised by the transfer figures they receive from other teams, and showcases their ability to develop players, making it an ideal place for players to take their game to the next level. They are a consistent top half team which in the Premier League, is no easy task.
Southampton were originally referred to as St. Marys Y.M.A, before changing to Southampton St. Mary’s in 1888, and then settling on Southampton FC after winning the Southern League title in 1896-97.
The Saints, as they are now known as, went on to win the Southern League championship for three years in a row between 1897 to 1899, and then later in 1901, 1903 and 1904. Their first stadium, which they went on to play in for the next 103 years, was called The Dell. It was built just outside the city centre in 1898. Although they originally struggled to afford to buy the stadium, they eventually gathered to get enough money together to afford the stadium for themselves in the early 20th century.
Southampton joining the Football League Third Division when it was formed in 1920, before earning promotion to the Second Division in 1921-22. During World War two, they shared a pitch with rivals Portsmouth at their home ground, Fratton Park, because of a bomb landing on The Dell pitch in 1940. They still went on to spend 31 years in the second division, before eventually being relegated, just three years after almost securing promotion to the first division. They slumped for a short while in the third division, but prolific striker, Derek Reeves bagged 39 goals and fired them back to the second division seven years later.
They finally triumphed in 1966 as they reached the first division under Ted Bates’ management. They suffered relegation in the 1974-75 season under Bates’ assistant, Lawrie McMenemy, but still went on to win their first ever FA Cup in 1976, beating Manchester United, and the odds. After returning to the first division in 1977-78, McMenemy made his biggest ever signing, bringing European Footballer of the Year, Kevin Keegan, to the club which was a huge statement, although he did not live up to expectations in his two years at the club. However, Southampton went on to finish in a club record sixth place. He broke that record in 1984-85, achieving runners up to Liverpool.
The Saints’ youth development was also thriving with the likes of club legend Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer coming through the ranks. Southampton were a part of the Premier Leagues origins, and lasted a while in the top flight. The success granted them permission to build a new stadium which is their current home ground, St Marys, and has a capacity of 32,000. However, this did not help their cause as as Southampton began to dip and managers were lasting short spells at the club, they were eventually relegated to the Football League in 2005. They also changed ownership at the club, with Jersey-based businessman, Michael Wilde, becoming the club’s major shareholder in 2006.
However, his ownership was short and only brought a dark cloud over Southampton, being forced to sell star players such as Gareth Bale and Kenwyne Jones in order to avoid administration in 2007-08. In 2008, all but one board member walked out of the club and they went on to suffer another relegation to the third tier of English football, and still had severe money trouble as they failed to pay wages.
Nigel Adkins was appointed to help revitalize the Saints, and he led them to back to back promotions, putting them back in the top flight in 2011-12. They had gained a reputation of developing players and selling them on, as well as their managers. The relatively unknown Mauricio Pochettino took over from Adkins, and went on to be a major success at the club, earning him he managers position at Tottenham. Pochettino also contributed to the mass amount of profits made on players, such as Adam Lallana’s, Dejan Lovren’s and Rickie Lamberts transfers to Liverpool for a combined fee of around £50m. Ronald Koeman also had a hand in the sales, and had a task on his hands which he grabbed with both hands, booking Southampton’s place in the Europa League in the 2015/16 season. He also took Southampton to their highest ever Premier League season of sixth place, and left for Everton at the end of the season. Claude Puel spent a year in charge and almost ended the club’s trophy drought, reaching the EFL cup final, but narrowly losing to Manchester United. Now with Mark Hughes the Saints hope to stay in the Premier League.
Mauricio Pellegrino took over and had a top-quality squad in his hands such as Sofiane Boufal and England international, Nathan Redmond. Saints fans have enjoyed fantastic football at the club over recent years and it seems like Southampton’s best years could still be ahead of them.