THERE may well be many questions to be answered at Saints during the summer, but at least there is hope.

As the season that was supposed to see Saints promoted back to the Premiership came to an end with a mid-table finish, there was a mood of reflection around St Mary's.

But, more than that, there was optimism.

In the boardroom, change seems to be on the cards and the fans took their final chance this season to sing for what they wanted, change at the very top.

Even so, there was still a party atmosphere.

In fact, it was reminiscent of the good times that really weren't as long ago as they now feel.

Fans dressed in yellow and blue to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the club's FA Cup win and they were in great voice.

They were really a credit after what they have witnessed in recent years.

It was the best atmosphere inside St Mary's for a long, long time.

The reason is that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.

Though there are still doubtless twists and turns to come off the pitch, all everybody wants is a united club that feels like it's making progress.

On the field it is the responsibility of George Burley and he is emphatically promising to deliver his part of the bargain.

There has been a huge turnover of players already at Saints since he arrived and the retained list issued next week will reveal still more to go.

The tearful farewell of Marian Pahars, a lone figure in the customary end of season lap of honour, was sad but another sign that an era has ended.

But where one era ends another begins, and that is the exciting part.

Burley's squad could look quite threadbare soon, but when the transfer window opens on May 8 he will be straight into action.

There is a lot of work to be done but at least he has shown his cards.

Exciting football, attacking football and goals are what he will try to bring to the club next season.

That is why there was the party atmosphere. All the way through the club there is that feeling of one era ending and another, exciting chapter about to begin.

Football is always full of surprises and there are probably still more to come, but the most important thing is to have hope.

Not long ago there seemed to be little.

Burley has given some of that - large chunks of money and numbers of shares changing hands has also helped - and the fans have responded.

It was easy to party and have fun when the team got to the Cup final, 30 years ago and three years ago, but it's not so easy now - and yet still they do it.

It was fitting that the team, some of whom won't be here next season, signed off with a win, and a pretty emphatic one at that.

As early as seven minutes they created their first chance, Grezgorz Rasiak feeding in Nathan Dyer who fired his shot against the inside of the post only to see it fly away from goal.

Rasiak himself side-footed into the side netting three minutes before Saints did break the deadlock on 22 minutes.

Gareth Bale, who was excellent at left back, incredible for only 16, lifted in a cross towards Ricardo Fuller.

The Saints striker headed it straight up in the air and, as the Leicester defence floundered, took his chance to slam the ball into the bottom corner for his sixth goal in as many games.

Just three minutes later it was 2-0.

Andrew Surman surged forward and laid in Fuller on the left. He got to the by-line and crossed for Surman, who had continued his run and slid the ball home.

After that Saints had chances, Rasiak had one cleared off the line and another ruled out for offside while Darren Potter's drive was well hit but straight at Paul Henderson.

Leicester picked themselves up after their tough start. They struggled to create much but Chris Baird did have to get Andrew Welsh's effort off the line while Kevin Miller made two good saves.

But the afternoon was always going to belong to Saints and they could, and probably should, have scored number three when David Prutton got through on goal in injury time but picked out the keeper rather than a teammate.

But one quick look around the stands after the game told you one thing - this is a club that could very soon be on the up again.