Championship Season Preview 2006/07 – Southampton

Southampton

Odds: 11/1

Last Five Seasons

2005/06 – 12 (Championship), 2004/05 – 20 (Premiership, Relegated), 2003/04 – 12 (Premiership), 2002/03 – 8 (Premiership), 2001/02 – 11 (Premiership).

2005/06 Cup Progress

FA Cup Fifth Round vs Newcastle United (a) – lost 1-0.

Carling Cup Second Round vs Mansfield Town (a) – lost 1-0.

Top Goal Scorer 2005/06: Ricardo Fuller (striker) – 9 goals.

Players In

Kelvin Davis (Sunderland – £1,000,000), Pele (Belenenses – Undisclosed), Bradley Wright-Phillips (Manchester City – Undisclosed), Jermaine Wright (Leeds United – Free), Marcelo Sarmiento (Cordoba – Loan).

Players Out

Paul Smith (Nottingham Forest – £500,000), Yoann Folly (Sheffield Wednesday – Undisclosed), Darren Kenton (Leicester City – Free).

Similarly to Coventry City last season, Southampton endured a torrid time at the beginning of the campaign. However, they enjoyed a good run of form towards the end which saw them win five of their last six matches and finished the season in twelfth position.

Manager George Burley pulled off a coup in signing Manchester City striker Bradley Wright-Phillips for an undisclosed fee. The 21 year old striker was prolific for City’s reserves, netting 32 goals in 46 matches, but managed just two in 40 appearances for the first team. Part of the transfer fee was funded by the £250,000 won by a fan in a Coca-Cola promotion.

After letting goalkeeper Paul Smith leave for Nottingham Forest in a £500,000 transfer and with only rookie Bartosz Bialkowski on the books and veteran Kevin Miller on non contract forms, Burley signed a new number one in Sunderland’s Kelvin Davis. The 29 year old former Luton Town, Ipswich Town and Wimbledon keeper signed a three year deal following his £1 million switch.

Midfielder Jermaine Wright, who spent four months on loan at St Mary’s last season from Leeds United has made his move to the Saints permanent, signing on a free transfer. The former Millwall, Wolves, Crewe Alexandra, and Ipswich Town midfielder made 14 appearances during his spell at the club last season.

Portuguese defender Pele joined for an undisclosed fee from Belenenses and signed a three year contract. The 28 year old central defender had also had interest from local rivals Portsmouth while the Saints also secured the signing of Argentine midfielder Marcelo Sarmiento on a season long loan from Racing Club de Cordoba.

Also this summer, young defender Gareth Bale marked his 17th birthday by signing a two year professional contract at the club. Bale, who made his senior debut for Wales against Trinidad and Tobago in May had been linked with potential moves elsewhere.

Verdict

Southampton’s end of season form was encouraging and it’s likely they will be challenging in the top half of the table rather than languishing at the bottom. They may miss out on a play off spot this time around but could break into the top 10.

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