Southampton 2019/20 Review: End of Season Report Card for the Saints

After a rocky first few months of the 2019/20 season, Southampton put their troubles behind them to record a creditable 11th place Premier League finish.

The Saints looked to be a lost cause when Leicester stunned them 9-0 at St Mary's last Autumn, but their decision to back manager Ralph Hasenhuttl - when so many other clubs would have opted to pull the trigger - has proven to be a very shrewd piece of business.

A high-intensity playing style, coupled with the prolific goalscoring form of Danny Ings throughout the season, has transformed Southampton into one of the most appealing Premier League sides to watch, and the future now looks bright with a talented squad of players.

But before plans are put into place for next season, it's time to review how 2019/20 went - school report card style. Let's begin.

League Performance

Premier League - 11th

Jamie Vardy was one of two players to get a hat-trick in the 9-0 win

Hasenhuttl's men had only mustered up two wins from their first nine Premier League matches before the Foxes visit at the end of October. Brendan Rodgers' men were in fine form at the time and Ryan Bertrand's early red card didn't help matters - but there was no excuse for a collapse of this nature.

Such a dramatic capitulation, especially in the form they were in, would be reason enough for most owners to call time on the manager's reign. But the south coast club's hierarchy stuck with the 'Austrian Klopp' and deserve credit for doing so.

That result left Southampton in the bottom three and staring at a relegation battle but a remarkable turnaround in form led to 13 wins from their final 28 matches ,and a comfortable mid-table finish.

The Saints only ended up two points behind the much-admired Sheffield United and four behind FA Cup finalists Arsenal.

Domestic Cup Performance

Carabao Cup - Fourth Round

Southampton faced Manchester City in consecutive matches after the 9-0 loss to Leicester

Hasenhuttl will have pleased some fans by fielding strong lineups throughout their relatively short-lived cup run. A 1-0 victory away at Championship high flyers Fulham was a decent result in the second round before a comfortable victory over bitter rivals Portsmouth brought local bragging rights.

The 4-0 win over Pompey was the first south coast derby in seven years and Southampton's first win at Fratton Park since 1984. A Danny Ings double contributed to the Englishman's remarkable scoring run throughout the rest of the campaign.

Unfortunately, things got a little tougher in the fourth round with a trip to the Etihad Stadium. A 3-1 loss to Pep Guardiola's City meant Southampton left with their heads held high though, especially as it was directly after that loss to Leicester.

FA Cup - Fourth Round

Southampton lost the replay at the Tottenham Hotspurs stadium

A home tie against second-tier strugglers Huddersfield allowed Hasenhuttl to make some changes. Will Smallbone came in to make his debut and put in a man-of-the-match performance, bagging one of the goals in a comfortable 2-0 win.

They couldn't get the job done on home territory in the next round, however, as Tottenham took them to a replay. A late Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min double completed a Spurs comeback in a topsy turvy cup tie that finished 3-2 to the Lilywhites.

Best Player

There's no point trying to beat around the bush here as there can simply be only one winner.

Danny Ings just missed out of a share of the Golden Boot this season

Danny Ings was in sensational form throughout the 2019/20 campaign and must have been as disappointed as anyone when the European Championships were postponed. Injuries to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford left him as an obvious choice to lead the national team's attack, but, sadly, it wasn't to be.

22 goals in a season where he featured in every league match is a remarkable achievement for the 28-year-old who has struggled so much with injuries in recent years. His time at Liverpool was blighted by serious knee problems - which resulted in his game time becoming extremely limited - and Ings was unable to show the Anfield crowd his true potential.

A return to his hometown club has transformed his fortunes and the likeable character will be hoping to carry on his form into next season. Jamie Vardy pipped him to the Golden Boot by a single strike but the fact that the former Burnley man doesn't take penalties - usually - makes his record even more impressive.

Worst Player

Angus Gunn didn't feature in the league again after the Leicester defeat

Nobody suffered more on that rainy night in October more than Angus Gunn. The goalkeeper had a nightmare that all keepers must suffer, except his actually became reality. The former Manchester City man was dropped after the humiliating defeat to Leicester and has failed to return to Premier League action.

The 24-year-old conceded 25 goals in just ten league matches before returning to the bench, keeping just two clean sheets. His replacement, Alex McCarthy, managed seven shut outs and conceded just 35 goals in the Saints' remaining 28 games.

While Gunn can't solely be blamed for the Saints early season form or record-equalling defeat, his absence from the starting XI did coincide with the dramatic turnaround in form - and that can't be ignored.

The Manager

Ralph Hassenhuttl has done a good job on the south coast

Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived at St Mary's with a growing reputation and made an instant impression. He steered Southampton to safety after arriving in December 2018, initially imprinting his hyper pressing style upon a struggling side to great success.

Southampton were some people's dark horses for a European push, despite a quiet summer of transfer activity, but any such talk was quickly dispelled by a slow start.

We'll mention the Leicester defeat one more time, because the recovery really has been sensational. The 54-year-old has all the managerial tools to push his side further, so it will be interesting to see how he's backed in the transfer market. Southampton entertain, are only getting better and could easily push for Europe if they're willing and able to invest.

Overall Grade

A campaign of two completely contrasting fortunes has probably left most Southampton fans confused. There's a sense of what-if, but also huge relief that Hasenhuttl was able to oversee a sharp turnaround before a relegation battle ensued. Plenty to build on for next season.

Grade: B

Source : 90min