Southampton FC - Can the Saint Go Marching In?

TheMaestro

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Nov 26, 2019
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Southampton FC - A Football Manager 2020 Story
Southampton FC.jpg

After finally tasting success with Tottenham Hotspur, I have decided to stick with the Premier League and attempt to the do the same with Southampton. A club who has had its major ups and downs over the course of several years and even over the course of this season. The Saints, as they are aptly nicknamed, qualified for Europe not too many years ago, but major departures, most of which were to Liverpool, saw them drop so far as to near relegation in recent seasons, with only the good work of Ralph Hassenhuttl saving them last season.

This season they have returned to mid table but not without losing 9-0 to Leicester City early on in the season. Their decision to keep Hassenhuttl at the helm paid off, with striker Danny Ings being in the most potent form of his career and is close to the top of the golden boot rankings. Combine all of that and that brings us to the start of yet another new journey on FM20 for me, however I have a good feeling about this one.

History and Honours
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Southampton are not exactly decorated with a glorious history, but do boast some iconic figures such as Matt Le Tissier back in the days. They came close to winning the Carabao Cup in 2017 but fell short, and otherwise have not come too close to winning any form of silverware in the past few years. The first season's aim, from the board, is simply staying afloat and then building a successful foundation to lead the club to a better finish each year.

Next post, I will overview the squad, and get started with some transfer and pre-season fixtures! Thank you for reading.

 

TheMaestro

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Nov 26, 2019
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Southampton FC - Season Preview and Transfer Market
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Southampton, predicted to finish 12th by the media this season, face Norwich on opening day.

Southampton have a pretty decent squad, a good balance of experience and youth, to my surprise they have over 10 players in youth teams with 3 1/2 star potential or higher. The best parts of this team is a lot of the attacking players have a good finishing ability, spearheaded by Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond, and the midfielders are also of a good level of quality. At CB, maybe the club lacks a player of that calibre but they make up for it in depth with all of Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, Kevin Danso and Jan Vestergaard all being at a good first team level. A similar situation is in place for the goalkeeper spot, with Angus Gunn and Alex McCarthy being equal although neither are spectactular. The team lacks depth at full back, so that is an option for the transfer market.

Star Player: James Ward-Prowse
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Some might call for this to be Danny Ings, but I opted for James Ward-Prowse and I think he just edges it. He has been a quality player in Southampton's midfield for quite a number of seasons now and is still a young player (24 at the start of the game). He has excellent technique, is one of the best free kick takers in the league and has, in real life, recently taken the captain's armband from Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg. He still has potential to get better and should he do so, surely a big club will be in for him before long.

One to Watch: Nathan Redmond
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Nathan Redmond is a quality player on his day, but sometimes his inconsistencies let him down, and have probably prevented him from reaching a higher level than Southampton. He has lightning quick pace, quick feet and can have a great shot on him, but sometimes his final product is his undoing. He could either be a star player for the side or a let down, but he certainly will catch the eye and I certainly hope he can do a job for the team.

Hot Prospect: Yan Valery
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Yan Valery burst onto the scene last season as more than capable young RB, with attacking qualities which can develop into all the traits needed into a good all round full back for the club. He is going to be my starting RB this season and I hope it can serve his development massively. Remember the name, because I'm hoping he will be one of my longer serving players throughout the course of this save.

With all of that, the media thinks we are in line for a 12th placed finish, which I don't think is all too bad. If we could manage a top half finish, that would be a great achievement in first season, but as I said previously, the board merely wants us to avoid the drop, which I'm hoping shouldn't be too much of an issue. With the quality of players the club has, we should be more than capable of surviving comfortably.

Transfer Window
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We had a relatively quiet window, but I think it was a successful one, bringing in 3 players and selling 1. The biggest hole in our Starting XI was in the CAM spot. Stuart Armstrong, Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal could all play there but none were natural and I needed them elsewhere. I also stated earlier that we lacked depth at FB so a versatile RB/LB was next on the list. Our final signing was a back-up midfielder as Oriol Romeu picked up an early three month injury which left a gap in that area.

IN - Ebere Eze - QPR - Southampton - 17m
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Our first signing was Championship youngster Ebere Eze for a decent sized fee. He comes straight into the first team at 21 years of age. Despite being a natural LW, I'm deploying him at CAM due to his low crossing and higher stats more suited to the CAM role, as he is not the fastest either. However, his ability comes in his dribbling, flair and balance which make him a massive attacking threat to any defence and he has been showing that in the Championship. Hopefully he can make the step up and produce in the Premier League.

IN - Josha Vagnoman - Hamburg - Southampton - 12.75m
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Perfect for what I needed, Josha Vagnoman is a complete natural on the right or left side with a good amount of potential to become a quality player in the future. Just 18 years of age, his natural fitness and pace are very good already and his natural ability to get up and down the line rapidly could see him become a great RB over the years, hopefully his development is well served at the club.

IN - Matt Grimes - Swansea City - Southampton - 8.75m
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Our final signing was purely a rotational midfielder, being Matt Grimes from Swansea. He has some good midfield stats and should be a very capable back-up for a few years at least. He is also English so that helps towards the homegrown requirement needed. Grimes didn't cost all that much as well, so I don't see any real issues with making the signing. He also provides his services as a DM, so that versatility will be useful should I need to change formation if one is not working.

OUT - Shane Long - Southampton - Burnley - 7.25m
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Our only first team departure was striker Shane Long. He'd been here for a while, but his goal record and age, plus the factor of three strikers being ahead of, made him a player which I could sell on. While he tries hard and his work rate is great, Long often lacks a final product and unfortunately, in a striker, the most important factor is the amount of goals they score, and 25 in 148 appearances prior to this season for Long saw him depart to Burnley for around 7 million.

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With a solid transfer window and a solid pre-season under our belts, the media predict us to finish in 12th spot. For our first season, with the squad we have, I would take that, although if we squeeze into the top half, I would say we've had a very good first season, if we could achieve that. Our squad does not have the greatest depth, and with a couple of injuries already picked up, we'll have to hope that injuries are kept to a minimum to avoid fielding a weakened team at any point.
 

TheMaestro

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Nov 26, 2019
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Southampton FC - 2019/20 Season Kick-Off
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I will look to carry on the good work of Ralph Hassehuttl as I start at Southampton

Matchday 1 - Southampton vs Norwich
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We got off to the most incredible starts, albeit against Norwich, predicted to finish 20th in the league. I was hoping for a win, but not expecting a 5-0 thrashing, most of which occurred in the first half. The game started straight into life, with Moussa Djenepo and Danny Ings scoring 2 quick goals which had us 2-0 up inside 2 minutes. Debutant Eberechi Eze got involved with a goal, before Djenepo struck again. Norwich weren't helped by a red card for Emi Buendia, but by then, the damage had been done. Ryan Bertrand added a 5th in stoppage time to add even more gloss to a tremendous opening day performance.

Key Moment: Moussa Djenepo opens the scoring within a minute
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Despite all of the goals and a red card, the crucial moment was Moussa Djenepo striking within 30 seconds of the match. It stunned Norwich and once Danny Ings put in the second a minute later, we were well on our way to a comfortable victory. Djenepo slotted home following on from some good work off our kick off routine, and would go on to score again in the match before coming off around the 70th minute.

Matchday 2 - West Ham vs Southampton
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We followed up with a solid enough result against West Ham. Despite taking the lead, West Ham deserved at least a point and were the better side for the majority of the game, especially after we scored. As a result, I will take a point and Nathan Redmond got his first goal of the season, having provided a couple of assists on the opening day in the Norwich win.

Key Moment: Felipe Anderson's coolly finished equaliser
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West Ham constantly pressed us and deserved to score, but often wasted their opportunities to finish. After we delivered the sucker punch, there was even more pressure on them to find an equaliser. The crucial moment in this game was Felipe Anderson keeping his head when presented with his chance and as a result the Hammers achieved a well deserved point.

Matchday 3 - Southampton vs Everton
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An incredible win as we defeat Everton 3-0 at home. After an uneventful first half, a 12 minute spell early in the second half decided the game in our favour and we won comfortably against a side who are better than us. Hojbjerg got his first goal after providing in earlier games, Stuart Armstrong scored a comfortable finish and Everton's hopes of a potential comeback were dashed when GK Jordan Pickford made a massive error leading to Michael Obafemi tapping in minutes after coming off the bench.

Key Moment: Jordan Pickford's Massive Error
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Despite already being 2-0 up at this point, Everton were attempting a more attacking approach to try and make their way back into the game. As they came further forward, they looked closer to scoring, but all their hopes were dashed when a simple pass for Jordan Pickford went awry and led to Michael Obafemi slotting in the third goal and securing our victory.

Matchday 4 - Watford vs Southampton
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We finish the month of league games with a routine 2-0 victory against Watford. Danny Ings missed a penalty after 3 minutes, but we took the lead early through Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and soon after Danny Ings doubled our lead and from then on we were comfortable with the lead and maintained it for the rest of the game. Hojbjerg has been one of the best players across the league so far, with goals and assists from his defensive midfield role.

Key Moment: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's thumping finish
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Similar to what he showed in the Everton game, Hojbjerg lashed a fierce shot into the top corner within 10 minutes of this clash. His goal saw us take a 1-0 lead and led to Danny Ings scoring just 4 minutes later, in what would be the only major chances of the match. Watford weren't able to recover from Hojbjerg's goal and after Ings doubled the lead, we were able to secure a rcomfortable victory.

Carabao Cup 1st Round - Southampton vs West Ham
(Carabao Cup) Southampton 4-1 West Ham.PNG

Despite drawing 1-1 against West Ham earlier, we thrashed them in the Carabao Cup. We raced into a 3-0 lead by halftime and despite them getting a goal back, we reinforced our 3 goal cushion with a penalty from Danny Ings late in the game. Another terrific performance and we were clinical in front of goal, as it was probably an even game, but the quality of finishing told, notably with ST Danny Ings netting a brace.

Key Moment: Danny Ings' Double
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Rather than a single goal in this, Danny Ings two strikes were crucial to our win. The first opened the scoring as his cool finishing ability was reflected, and the second finished off West Ham as he maintained his composure

League Table
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We have made an incredible start to the season, keeping 3 clean sheets in 4 games and conceding just once. We currently lie in 3rd, although 1st placed Tottenham have played an extra game. At the bottom, Manchester United will be disappointed with their start to the season, while Brighton have failed to collect a point and have only scored the one goal. Aston Villa have also had a very good start to their season, sitting in 6th.

Player of the Month - Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
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Well, what can I say about Hojbjerg. He has given me a complete midfield performance, with a pair of assists and a couple of goals despite sitting deeper than James Ward-Prowse. He has been incredible and has the highest average rating in the league, meaning that he has already garnered interest from Tottenham, PSG and Liverpool, which is a problem as he isn't looking to renew his contract due to bigger clubs being interested.

Key Performance: W 3-0 vs Everton
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Hojbjerg's best performance this month came in the win against Everton. He dominated the ball, shutting off Everton's midfield for the first half and then in the second made explosive forward runs and scored a thumping finish (again) to kick start the game. It was a crucial goal as it rattled Everton and allowed us to obtain a comfortable victory. He played a similar role in the Watford game, but his rating was highest for this one.
 

TheMaestro

Member
Nov 26, 2019
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Southampton FC - Mixed Results

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Matchday 5 - Southampton vs Crystal Palace
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A dull affair at home to Crystal Palace, which is probably our weakest result so far, but still acceptable. Our centre-back pairing of Jan Bednarek and Kevin Danso were particularly solid, with both achieving a match rating of 7.1. That was the major talking point of the game, as I leaned towards making Danso's loan deal a permanent one should I have the money.

Key Moment: Kevin Danso's rock solid defending
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In an attacking sense, Palace were probably the more threatening side, although there were no real major chances in the game. It was just as well that both Kevin Danso and Jan Bednarek played quite well for a 0-0 result. Danso in particular impressed me with his heading ability and no nonsense style of playing, and his composure looked high which was exactly what was needed in the situation.

Matchday 6 - Manchester United vs Southampton
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Going positive against Manchester United was always going to be a risk and it did not pay off, as our biggest test yet resulted in a 3-0 defeat. United haven't started well but still boast a number of elite level players and their quality showed as they were able to take us apart. A first loss as manager, but nothing to be particularly upset about, however, going a little more defensive against bigger sides could be a useful lesson to me.

Key Moment: Bruno Fernandes' doubles United's lead
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Despite already being behind, Bruno Fernandes tapping in for United made it that extra bit harder for us to get back into the game. Fernandes was crucial to United's victory, setting up the opener before going on to grab the second himself. We didn't deserve anything from the match based on our performance, and the Portuguese international ensured we didn't do so.

Matchday 7 - Southampton vs Newcastle
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We responded to a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United, with a 3-0 win against Newcastle. Danny Ings got us underway with another goal for us, finishing nicely within in 10 minutes. It seems to be a pretty good pattern we have going that we usually take a lead in the first half and build on it, with a couple of exceptions. Thankfully, there was no exception today and Nathan Redmond slotted in the second before Matt Grimes scored his first goal for the club with a nice long range finish.

Key Moment: Danny Ings' goal to kickstart a win
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The first goal is always a crucial one, and none more so than today. Another early goal led to the opposition crumbling and it enabled us to win the match comfortably. This time the early goal was scored by hitman Danny Ings, who continues to pop up with some vital goals for us and is leading from the front. He doesn't score incredible goals, but his finishing is as reliable as most others in the league.


Carabao Cup 3rd Round - Wolves vs Southampton (Match vs West Ham was 2nd Round)
(Carabao Cup) Wolves 0-1 Southampton.PNG

We were handed another difficult draw at this early stage, but we managed to prevail through it. This was an exception to the rule as we weren't able to get a second goal but thankfully we didn't need one. Danny Ings, who was our main hero in the last round of the Carabao Cup, struck the vital strike again here around the half hour mark to put us through to the 4th round.

Key Moment: Danny Ings' Cup Heroics
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Danny Ings is a very good goalscorer and despite playing well all round, he is saving his very best for the cup competitions. His finishing and composure steps up further when it comes to knockout football and after displaying it against West Ham, he replicated his heroics to win the match for us again, this time doing the damage against Wolves.

League Table
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We are still sitting nicely, currently in 5th position. Aston Villa are also overachieving still and, despite beating us, United remain in the lower half.

Player of the Month: Danny Ings
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Danny Ings has chipped in with the goals this month, helping us win more games.


 
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