Last season: 8th
At first glance Claude Puel looked incredibly unlucky to lose his job after guiding Southampton to an eighth place finish in the Premier League.
However, that stat masked the fact that only Leicester City lost more points last season compared to the year before and a run of just six points from their last eight matches meant the Saints’ board decided to make a change.
Step forward Mauricio Pellegrino. The Argentine was a surprise appointment and his first major test will come quickly as he deals with fallout from star defender Virgil van Dijk putting in a transfer request.
It seems certain that the Dutchman will leave the club before the end of the transfer window and how Pellegrino and the recruitment team spend that windfall may well decide on whether the club can improve on their points haul of last season.
So far at least, Southampton have been one of the least active teams in the transfer market, with Polish centre-back Jan Bednarek the only summer arrival.
The 21-year-old is highly rated but it would be a big ask for him to be viewed as a like for like replacement for Van Dijk so it would seem there is plenty of work to be done before the window closes for the club to be in a position to challenge for the top six.
With the likes of Everton and West Ham both strengthening heavily already in this transfer window, Saints fans will expect plenty of action in the coming weeks.
The outcome will give a good indication as to how ambitious the Southampton board really are.
Glass half full: After finishing last season in a respectable eighth place and getting to the final of the EFL Cup the Saints start this season on strong foundations. The lack of Europa League football will allow them to focus on the Premier League while, after a quiet start to the transfer window, there should be plenty left in the coffers for a last-minute splurge.
Glass half empty: A lack of transfers and a new manager without any Premier League experience is a cause for concern even for the most optimistic of fans. Virgil van Dijk looks certain to leave before the transfer window shuts and it will be a challenge to get the best price for him and find an adequate replacement before end of the month.
New kids on the block: Jan Bednarek – Lech Poznan.
Left the building: Jay Rodriguez – West Brom, Harrison Reed – Norwich, Cuco Martina – Everton, Lloyd Isgrove – Barnsley, Harley Willard – released, Martin Caceres – released, Jason McCarthy – Barnsley, Olufela Olomola – Yeovil (loan).
The gaffer: Mauricio Pellegrino – The 45-year-old Argentine was a surprise appointment when Southampton brought him in to replace Claude Puel at the end of last season. Pellegrino led Spanish side Alaves to the Copa del Rey final last season where they lost 3-1 to Barcelona and has also enjoyed successful spells at Independiente and Estudiantes in his native country.
Star man: Fraser Forster – Southampton’s giant goalkeeper was a virtual ever-present last season and the 29-year-old is a commanding figure at the back. His form played a key part in the Saints run to the EFL Cup final and as they secured a top 10 finish in the Premier League.
One to watch: Nathan Redmond – The England under-21 international enjoyed a fine debut season for the Saints last term and is starting to add more end product to his game. The winger will believe he can force his way into the England squad for the World Cup if he has another strong season this time around.
First five games: Swansea City (H), West Ham (H), Huddersfield Town (Away), Watford (Home), Crystal Palace (A).
Premier League Title Odds: 250/1
Top Four Odds: 20/1
Relegation Odds: 25/1
Top Goalscorer Odds: Manolo Gabbiadini 5/6
Star Bet: Southampton’s 2016/17 form can be described as patchy, at best. They strung together back-to-back wins just three times all season and suffered 16 defeats along the way yet still managed to finish eighth. Virgil van Dijk looks to be on his way out of the club and that will be a huge blow to a team who haven’t strengthened this off-season. European football was a welcome addition to the club last year but may have been something of a hindrance in the early part of the season. To finish in the bottom half – Southampton 6/4