2014/15 certainly turned out to be a decently promising season for both the White Hart Lane and St. Mary’s faithful.
With a respective 5th and 7th place recorded come the culmination of the campaign – with only four points separating Spurs from the Saints at the end of term – each side managed to successfully qualify for the Europa League in some form or another, whilst bravely challenging the top four for large parts of the season.
However, in light of Toby Alderweireld’s recent decision to shun Southampton – the side for which the Belgian defender played on loan for across the entire 2014/15 campaign – in favour of a permanent move to Tottenham Hotspur in the run up to the new season, the seeming competition between these two sides looks set to continue into 2015/16.
So then, whilst there is still much work to be done for each team throughout the rest of the summer transfer window, just which club ultimately looks in the best shape ahead of the new campaign?
Even in light of last season’s heroics at St. Mary’s, Southampton fans from far and wide can still have every reason to feel somewhat let down by current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, and his controversial decision to depart the South Coast for White Hart Lane last summer.
The Argentinean manager had certainly begun to develop a philosophy to be proud of with the Saints before his abrupt departure, and whilst the transition at Tottenham hasn’t been quite as smooth as many Spurs fans would have initially hoped for, the signs do in-fact seem to be improving for Pochettino in the run up to the new campaign.
The St. Mary’s faithful meanwhile have a very strong managerial candidate in their own dug-out this summer in the form of Ronald Koeman. The Dutch boss truly showed what he was made of last season, defying many initial doubters by maintaining Southampton’s place in the top half of the table despite the mass exodus that took place on the South Coast this time last year.
With the likes of Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane proving massive hits with the Saints last term, expect Koeman’s revitalized Southampton squad to continue their good form across the 2015/16 season.
Yes, such names may find their second term in the Premier League slightly harder without that all important surprise factor on board this time around, but the overall quality of such talents should nonetheless shine through in the end – especially if reliable figures such as Jose Fonte manage to contine their fine form at the back for Southampton going into the new campaign.
Tottenham on the other hand don’t seem to have as much flow or team chemistry within their first choice starting XI. The likes of Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane somewhat carried Pochettino’s side for large portions of the 2014/15 campaign, yet if the rest of Pochettino’s men fail to pull their weight throughout the upcoming season, Spurs may not be able to repeat their impressive finish of last term so easily.
The players on offer at White Hart Lane will surely want to build upon on their fortunes next term however, so perhaps an all-round improvement in the team’s performance is to be expected sooner rather than later.
As Nathaniel Clyne has already followed the likes of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to Anfield this summer, new-boy Cedric Soares is really going to have some big boots to fill in that right-back position for Southampton next season.
The likes of Juanmi, Maarten Stekelenburg and Cuco Martina may also prove handy assets for Ronald Koeman next term, but if French midfield enforcer – Morgan Schneiderlin – ultimately decides on quitting St. Mary’s for either Arsenal or Manchester United this summer, perhaps the Saints will fall somewhat short of their targets throughout the upcoming campaign.
In terms of Tottenham, Pochettino has so far only managed to source Burnley’s in-form Keiran Trippier, former Bundesliga centre-back Kevin Wimmer, and of course ex-St. Mary’s loanee Toby Alderweireld, in this summer's ever competitive transfer window.
The back-line at White Hart Lane may have needed strengthening going into the new campaign, but without a few more additions across the rest of the squad for Spurs 2015/16, Tottenham could also potentially find themselves lacking when the fixtures come thick and fast next season.
So then, whilst each side certainly needs a few more additions this summer to bolster the ranks in and around their respective squads for next term, both Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman seemingly look pretty well placed going into the new campaign.
The future at St. Mary’s in particular looks especially exciting during this stage of the club’s increasingly successful recent history – yet because Tottenham seemingly have that fifth place finish on lock almost with every passing season – expect the White Hart Lane faithful to once again finish above their St. Mary’s counter-parts come this time next year.