SAINTS will be quietly content to see the bookmakers writing them off ahead of their return to the Premier League.

Nigel Adkins won’t have to work too hard to find a positive in his side being made among the very favourites for relegation.

Indeed, Saints fans of generations gone by will probably be pretty content as well.

That’s because they know the power of being the underdogs.

In sport, it is easier to be the underdogs, to perform without the pressure of expectation, as Saints proved year after year as they survived relegation from the Premier League at The Dell, despite being written off time and again.

It’s also why promoted teams can do so well in their first season in the top flight, without vast investment – as the likes of Norwich and Swansea proved last season.

The momentum takes you forward, you are together as a group after promotion and galvanised to prove people wrong, to prove that as players you deserve to be at that level.

It’s a very powerful tool.

It’s why so often you hear of critical comments being pinned on dressing room walls – all these little things can be turned into motivational tools, to get the players fired up by thinking ‘we’ll show them’.

Saints being made favourites for relegation, therefore, may well be a positive for Saints.

If a whole load of Premier League pundits weigh in and say the same at the start of the campaign that will suit them even better.

People have viewed Saints’ handling of pressure in mixed ways over the past couple of seasons.

Some have said they should have won the title in League One but missed out, then had the opportunity to do the same in the Championship but dipped when Reading came screaming through.

Does that show that the pressure got to them?

Or, by hanging on in there and finishing second on both occasions, and winning back-to-back promotions, did they in fact show that they can handle pressure very well indeed?

The only pressure they will have from outside the club next season is to perform as best they can, to turn up and fight every week.

Nobody really expects them to go out and beat Manchester United at Old Trafford or Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but again that could work in their favour.

If anything will slightly grate with Saints fans it will be seeing West Ham are fifth favourites for the drop.

Yes, they have Premier League experience in the squad and, despite their apparent debt will no doubt splash the cash on a few more big name signings.

Maybe then the odds are fair, but still, and even if their promotion was deserved in the end, it sticks in the throat that they finished third and came through the play-offs but are still rated more likely to stay up.

Imagine then how Reading feel – they won the title and are the favourites to go down.

The thing is pressure is an odd and unpredictable beast in the world of sport.

Saints can play without pressure next season and from their point of view the more people that write them off the better.