In decline? No, Southampton have never looked better 18

The internet, as we all know, is a fertile breeding ground for alarmist, knee-jerk opinions.  If something happens - anywhere, in any context - the chances are that several thousand people will respond instantaneously with a thundering generalisation.  The best opinion is the quickest, and the most accurate is always the loudest - in football especially, we like the ‘big statement’ or the definitive paragraph which can be neatly suffixed with ‘FACT!’

This week, Southampton have been stripped of two of their biggest assets.  Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana have been sold to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively and, additionally, Rickie Lambert also moved to Anfield prior to leaving for England’s day-trip to Brazil.

What has the response to that been?  Melodrama, naturally.

Talk of Southampton now being relegation-fodder is not only inaccurate, but it’s also symptomatic of a failure to recognise what the core principles of this club really are.  Southampton are arguably the most organic footballing organisation in the country and they are one of the only remaining top-flight sides who can credibly claim to produce their own first-team.  The infrastructure at St Mary’s has changed over the past twelve months and key personnel have obviously left, but the governing mission statement seems to be the same: proccurement complements production, not the other way around.

With Shaw, Lallana, and Lambert removed from the side, the below is an outline of Ronald Koeman’s first-eleven next season:

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 14.06.02

On paper that is a very solid football team; Lallana’s goals and creativity are a loss, as is Lambert’s all-round forward play, but generally speaking that is a side more than capable of holding their own within the top-half of the division.

Now, not only does Koeman have James Ward-Prowse, Calum Chambers, Sam Gallagher, Victor Wanyama, Harrison Reed and potentially Dani Osvaldo to add into that eleven, but he also has next to £70m to potentially complement those existing resources.  So, in addition to a strong starting-eleven full of players appreciating in value, the incoming Koeman has a list of potential-rich alternatives and a transfer-budget which can be used to not only replace this Summer’s lost components but actually improve upon them.

Southampton fans are very fond of Adam Lallana and understandably so, but for £25m Ronald Koeman could find two or three Lallanas on the continent.  In England Adam Lallana is rare, but in Spain or Holland there’s one on every street corner.  That’s the advantage of being a club who regularly produce desirable English talent: as and when it matures, you have the opportunity of making an absolute killing by taking advantage of the unfathomable passport tax which seems to apply in this country.

How can anyone say that this Summer has been a negative for Southampton?  Look at the sale revenue, appreciate the FFP leeway that they have now created for themselves and, most importantly, look at the ability they are still in possession of.  Rather than walking onto a sinking ship, Koeman has inherited one of the best jobs in English football - there are money bags stacked floor-to-ceiling in his office, there’s a very competent Premier League side already assembled on the training pitch, and the next Adam Lallana or Luke Shaw is probably doing kick-ups in the Academy as we speak.

This isn’t a time to be depressed, it’s a Summer during which every Southampton supporter should be waking up laughing.

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