Saints icon Francis Benali wants St Mary’s to be a fortress this season ahead of the first home game against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Benali, who made nearly 400 appearances for Saints, was impressed by what he saw in the 2-1 opening day defeat against Liverpool.

And now, he wants Ronald Koeman’s new-look side to make St Mary’s a fearsome prospect for any team to come to.

“Home form is going to be important,” he said.

“We want to make St Mary’s a fortress again.

“Seeing the performance away at Anfield, I’m really looking forward to seeing them play at home.”

The ex-full back, who will be embarking on an 1,000 mile run between the 20 Premier League clubs to raise money Cancer Research UK on Sunday, admired how the new summer signings, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle, Ryan Bertrand and Fraser Forster – with Florin Gardos and Saphir Taider yet to play – have quickly embedded themselves into the team.

“I thought they were great,” Benali said. “Especially given that some of the players have only worked to together for a short period of time, it was good to see.

“Things can only get better.

“There’s some good understanding and relationships building already.

“A lot of promise has been shown and there’s a lot more to come from them.

“They just need knit together a bit more.

“The more they work together the more they will gel together.”

Benali was pleased to see Saints prove many wrong with their performance at Anfield, after many tipped Koeman’s side to struggle.

Despite coming away from Merseyside with a defeat, Benali is optimistic for the rest of the season.

“It’s almost like a new era for the club,” he said.

“There are a lot of players here from the old regimes but this is very much a new-look squad under Koeman.

“There was a lot of quality here already but the new quality that is coming in means it’s an exciting mix and I can’t wait to see them fulfil their potential.”