Nathaniel Clyne’s signing is a recognition on the part of Nigel Adkins that there is a major weakness in his squad ahead of their Premier League season – a lack of pace.
Make no mistake, pace is king in the Premier League.
And, for all the wonderful things about the Saints squad who have achieved so much in the past couple of seasons, pace is almost entirely absent.
The only exceptions are striker Jonathan Forte , who rarely even makes the bench, and winger Steve De
Ridder , who has been a bit-part player since arriving last summer.
Let’s be clear, not everyone in a Premier League side has to have searing pace. It’s not a pre-requisite to play at that level.
But every side must have some somewhere, particularly in wide areas.
Full backs will come up against pace, and Premier League full backs you face will be comfortable with skill but are likely to get ruffled by pace.
Clyne’s signing is a sure signal that Adkins has recognised all this and is trying to do something about it because, pace aside, you wouldn’t think Saints really needed another right back.
Frazer Richardson was marvellous last season, a steady and consistent defensive influence who, as it happens, was in the top ten of the entire
Championship assists list.
And this for a man who doesn’t take any set-pieces.
It was a remarkable achievement and it is a shame for Richardson that it’s his place under direct threat by the signing of Clyne, who will surely be used an offensive, attacking right back.
Deputising for Richardson was Danny Butterfield , such a crucial part of the League One promotion winning
season, but his role seems even further marginalised by the arrival of Clyne.
That Saints have continued their summer signing theme by bringing in more young British talent is something to be applauded in many ways.
It is a gamble, though, because it is another player with no Premier League experience coming into a squad that collectively have very little between them.
An interview in Holland with potential Saints signing Alexander Buttner also revealed that he was told if he joins he will be used as a left back.
It’s another indication that, no matter how well Richardson and Danny Fox did last season, Adkins is shaking things up.
He is treading that fine line that so many managers face when their side has got promoted.
They know they need better players to make the step up.
But they have to try and convince their squad that the new faces are merely competition for places because, if they suspect they are direct replacements, you can get resentment.
If that festers, which is generally result driven, you have big problems.
In amongst the other summer arrivals yet to sweep into St Mary’s will surely be some pace in attacking wide areas too.
Hence Adkins’ interest in Dutch international Jeremain Lens.
Clyne’s signing is as sure a signal as any that Adkins is only too aware of this potential shortcoming ahead of the new campaign.