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No need to panic says Poch
Saints face a tricky decision when it comes to the January transfer window – pay over the odds to chase the potential of a good start to the season, or allow their evolution to continue but risk settling into mid-table.
There is little doubt that the first option is the most exciting. Fans love to see their club splashing the cash and bringing in new players.
However, the second is surely the most sensible, prudent and the correct way to go.
This has been a very interesting season so far, and we have gained some valuable insights into the Saints squad.
We have deduced that the first team – maybe a group of about 14-16 or so players – are very capable of challenging anybody in the division.
They have proved the ability to produce the kind of results consistently enough that makes their dream of a top four finish not look as outlandish as some had suggested.
Beyond that, Saints have a very capable Premier League squad, with plenty of guys who won’t let you down.
However, that is more of a mid-table top flight side and not one that is going to compete in the higher reaches of the table.
If Saints want to make themselves serious players for the top four positions in years to come, there is no doubt they need to have extra quality in depth.
The right time to bring that in, though, is the summer.
Granted, the World Cup will stymie the transfer market until much later on next year, but even so the prices you pay are comparatively sensible as clubs, players and agents look to get deals done.
In January, you always pay over the odds for players.
Those selling can smell the desperation and hold out for top dollar.
Those buying are often panicking.
At Saints, there is absolutely nothing to panic about.
The transfer policy of late has been sensible.
Saints have cherry-picked the occasional player here or there to improve the team, and have paid the appropriate fee for stars of the necessary quality to keep them moving forward.
The club are surely not going to be interested in players who cannot go straight in and improve the first team in January.
And at the level they aspire to, that means they are only realistically looking at footballers who already feature in other top sides.
That will mean parting with more than they are worth, perhaps considerably more, to persuade their clubs to let them go now.
Saints can resist that, though.
Alright, splashing out money might help them capitalise on a terrific start to the season, but it must be remembered that it is no guarantee as new players need time to gel, which is hard to get in the cut and thrust of a busy campaign.
Also, Saints are built on a strong team unit and bringing highly-paid new players into the dressing room can sometimes be counterproductive to that.
When the club have done so well, and such a good finish seems within reach, it’s easy to see the temptation to spend big, but common sense must be maintained.
It might be that Saints have to settle for an upper mid-table position this season. It’s not what they want but it is significant progress, and with a summer in which to address any shortcomings the future is bright.
In terms of the squad itself, the recent spate of injuries have made it look a little bare.
A significant number of fans in the Daily Echo poll wanted the club to buy a new keeper.
Artur Boruc is the number one and has done pretty well, despite two high profile errors against Stoke and Arsenal.
Kelvin Davis, unfortunate to have been out when his chance has come, is an able keeper still.
However, despite his professionalism, Saints have to be realistic as, at 37, he isn’t one for the long term future.
Paulo Gazzaniga has stepped into the breach in the last few games, but looks as though he needs games to progress.
Maybe if a new keeper did come in it would allow him a loan season, or two, to get vital experience.
People forget he is desperately young and inexperienced for a keeper. He obviously has potential but he won’t fulfil that sitting on the bench or, more likely when Boruc and Davis return, in the under-21s.
Defence is an interesting area.
There are two first team players at right back (Clyne, Chambers), two at left back (Shaw, Fox) and four at centre half (Lovren, Fonte, Yoshida, Hooiveld).
Some have argued that there is not the sufficient quality in depth in a couple of those positions, which might be a fair point when you are aiming for the top four.
But football transfers are always about priorities and that would need to be weighed up carefully.
The attacking midfield roles off of the main striker have a myriad of options.
The only thing missing from that department is pace.
Though it would be good to see that added to the squad, again it is hardly a top priority when you have six very good players competing for those three roles.
The analysis for Saints has to be that there is no point going crazy in January. There is even an argument for not adding another player if they are prepared to accept a top four finish might be just beyond them this season.
They are ambitious and want to get places fast. But there is no need to throw everything at it immediately and risk a well thought out plan falling on its face when it appears to working well.
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