There’s an irony that just over ten minutes walk away from Southampton’s St. Mary’s stadium is reputedly the spot where king Canute tried to reprove his courtiers by ordering the tide to turn back; Ironic because Chairman Ralph Krueger’s insistence that Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin are not up for sale seems to be a similar exercise in futility.
Ever since manager Pochettino was lured away by Spurs in May following his successful inaugural season in the Premier League where his style of play won both plaudits and a well regarded 8th place finish for the club Saints fans have braced themselves for an exodus of playing staff.
The situation was only exasperated by the shop window afforded by a World Cup tournament however, only the most pessimistic could have predicted the unprecedented number of players making for the exit. Whilst few fans would begrudge Rickie Lambert a boyhood dream move after years of loyal service and goals which have seen the club rise from the depths of League One, and most expected Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw to depart for big clubs, the loss of Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren is an altogether harder pill to swallow.
While Pochettino’s main concern is to avoid the slide into mediocrity which undid Glenn Hoddle who made the same move from the South Coast to London in 2001 his replacement Ronald Koeman – a man still best known in England for allegedly costing Graham Taylor his job as England manager – faces a full-blown crisis.
With the beginning of the Premier League season fast approaching Koeman has only succeed in completing two permanent signings, those of Graziano Pelle from his former club Feyenoord and Dusan Tadic from FC Twente along with the addition of Ryan Bertrand on a season-long loan from Chelsea. This lack of recruitment despite recouping a reported figure of around £75 million in transfer fees is also leading to renewed concerns among sections of the fanbase about the intentions of club owner Katharina Liebherr, who inherited the club from her late father Markus.
With Krueger coming out to categorically insist that the club aren’t up for sale, perhaps the harder truth for Southampton fans – also spoilt by years of Le Tissier loyalty – is that in the era of big-money Champions League football the club will always struggle to the retain players, or managers whose success puts them on the radar of bigger clubs. As Canute proved, not so far away, it isn’t easy to turn back the tide.