Premier League Seasons Past
The Gao Years
Premier League 2020-21
The second year of the pandemic.
Still no crowds, apart from a handful of experimental games. The last home game of the season against Leeds, the club were allowed to admit just ofer seven thousand ticket holders, with no away fans. Social distancing and face masks were mandatory for this, but it was just nice to see live Premier League football again, even if Saints lost again.
Saints had a real Jekyl & Hyde type of season, for a few tantalising hours, back on November 6th 2020, they were top of the Premier League, after beating Newcastle 2-0 and no, Danny Ings wasn't in the team. From there it was a constant slide down the table, until the end of the season, when we ended up in 16th place. Safe from relegation, but so far from where we were hoping at the start of the season.
Still next season the crowds may be back and we couldn't be as abject again - could we?
Premier League 2019-20
The season the Pandemic struck
The first part of the season started with another struggle, as the early season fixtures against the top sides left Saints firmly rooted in the bottom three.
I will not go on much about the Leicester defeat at home, but suffice to say that it was record breaking. The real bottom of the pit was reached in the following home match and the 1-2 defeat to Everton. At this point Ralph Hasenhüttl seemed to draw a line in the sand and went back to basics. It seemed to work and the team gradually clawed their way out of the pit of despair, otherwise known as the relegation zone.
Progress was being made in the new year and then the pandemic washed over us and football was suspended at the end of March. The weeks ticked by, but Hasenhüttl was busy, rewriting the Saints training manuals and ensuring the players were keeping safe and fit at home, in isolation.
When the Premier League made the decision to play the outstanding fixtures, but without any crowds, Saints were ready and in those nine remaining matches, after an initial loss at home to Arsenal, they were outstanding. If there had been a league table for those Project Restart (as the Premier League called it) matches, then Saints would have been third, behind Manchester City and Manchester United.
Oh, and Adams finally scored. More than once.
Saints ended up looking a really good, attacking team, with a good defence.
Premier League 2018-19
Well, that was a fairly traumatic season. If we thought the 2017/18 season was rough, then it wasn't a patch on what we went through this season.
Saints started with Mark Hughes as manager, who then managed to compile statistics that saw him achieve the unenviable record of being the worst of our managers since the formation of the Premier League.
In November the changes started, when Mr Gao sacked both Vice Chairman and de facto DoF, Les Reed and Technical Director, Martin Hunter. Then, at the beginning of December, Mr. Gao sacked Manager, Mark Hughes, First Team Manager, Mark Bowen and First Team Coach, Eddie Niedzwiecki. Pretty much a clean sweep.
Just three days after Hughes and his team left, Ralph Hasenhüttl was appointed manager. He had one heck of a task to motivate and encourage a completely demoralised and demotivated playing staff, but he did. Saints were mathematically safe with games to spare this time, but there remains an awful lot to do, after the downhill slide of the last three seasons. A lot of money was wasted on poor players and some pretty bad business decisions were made. The final break with this dismal period was when the Canadian Chairman, Ralph Krueger left in April.
Click on the button below, have look through the seasons matches and look at the players signed in the Summer of 2018 (Not a single player was signed in the January window!). There were some bright spots, including the occasional victory over a top six side.
Premier League 2017-18
The first year of Mr. Gao's ownership and not a good one to be honest. One that featured the fewest games won at St.Mary's that I can remember. Having said that, we still had an FACup Semi-Final at Wembley in February. Chelsea made short work of us, no real surprise there then.
Click on the button below to read about Saints car crash of a season and their amazing escape.