On the finish of October, it was wanting bleak for Southampton – a humiliation on a moist and wild Friday.
They dropped to 18th within the Premier League desk, had the joint-worst objective distinction after 10 matches and had simply been overwhelmed 9-Zero by Leicester City at St Mary’s. A shellacking in their very own yard.
It’s Saints’ greatest defeat of their 135-year existence and in addition equalled the file of the biggest profitable margin in Premier League historical past.
talkSPORT’s Alex Criminal, who was current for that downright depressing night time for Southampton at St Mary’s, noticed it coming.
“It’s the worst dwelling efficiency from a Premier League crew I’ve ever seen,” Criminal instructed talkSPORT.com.
“As soon as the primary objective went in, a few of the gamers visibly downed instruments and you bought the sense it was going to be a giant scoreline. I keep in mind saying at 4-Zero that the file might be beneath menace so the writing was on the wall.”
Naturally questions on supervisor Ralph Hasenhuttl’s job would floor after such a harrowing defeat however earlier than any sack discuss received momentum, the membership briefed the media that he nonetheless had their backing.
Issues certainly couldn’t get a lot worse after that? Effectively, they didn’t lose by 9 objectives once more however Saints nonetheless left Premier League clashes in opposition to Manchester City and Everton empty-handed because the season paused for the November worldwide break.
At that stage, Southampton have been 19th within the desk, having solely amassed eight factors from twelve matches. All of it modified after that.
Criminal factors to Saints’ first match after the break because the second the place the season turned for the higher. They narrowly missed out on a win at Arsenal with Alexandre Lacazette equalising within the sixth minute of stoppage-time however there was spirit and character that the majority actually wasn’t there when Leicester got here to city.
Outcomes got here collectively round Christmas and the brand new yr, together with spectacular victories over Chelsea and Tottenham, whereas later in January there was redemption as they secured a victory in opposition to the aspect that had served them up an enormous humiliation two-and-a-half months earlier than.
The Premier League’s kind desk exhibits Southampton have been the sixth finest crew within the land because the weekend of the draw at Arsenal. They’re forward of the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal in addition to being 4 factors higher off than Champions League hopefuls Leicester who so ruthlessly thrashed them.
What was achieved in that worldwide break that turned Southampton’s season round?
“Firstly of the season they’d stopped urgent, they’d gone a bit extra route one and it didn’t work,” Criminal added.
“Hasenhuttl modified his ways, modified his system. He determined one or two gamers weren’t going to be alongside for the journey and tried a special strategy.
“They went again to doing what they have been doing when he first got here in, which was a excessive press. Hasenhuttl calls it the purple zone.
“The change of the again line helped. After the Leicester sport they introduced in Jack Stephens and removed Jannik Vestergaard, who’s a little bit of a legal responsibility.”
After the prolonged stoppage, Southampton raced out the blocks to say a dominant 3-Zero victory over Norwich, the outcome successfully pulling Hasenhuttl’s aspect away from the relegation battle.
Their most up-to-date dwelling outing was maybe their most spectacular victory of the lot as Southampton defended resolutely to get the higher of Pep Guardiola’s Man City 1-Zero at St Mary’s.
The winner was not solely a superb objective by Che Adams but additionally an indication of how efficient Hasenhuttl’s excessive press philosophy will be with Oleksandr Zinchenko being dispossessed in midfield earlier than Adams expertly lobbed the stranded Ederson within the City objective.
Their most up-to-date match noticed them inflict ache on the in-form Manchester United, claiming a creditable 2-2 draw at Previous Trafford.
It’s not clear if Saints will construct on this nice kind into subsequent season however proper now followers can simply take pleasure in how far they’ve come since that fateful Friday night time.
From conceding 9, they’re now on cloud 9.