Thank goodness that’s over.

You could almost sense the relief around not only St Mary’s but Southampton collectively when referee Andre Marriner blew the final whistle for the last time this season to bring the curtain down on a difficult campaign for Saints.

Going into the finale against Manchester City everybody knew that Saints had pretty much wrapped up survival, but even though it would have taken a dramatic day and a ten goal swing to turn things around there were still a few nerves.

The players seemed calm and composed, but in the stands it took a while for it to sink in.

Safety, though, was assured and the chance to regroup this summer.

You ultimately finish where you deserve to in the table and Saints were not in the bottom three, even if they wouldn’t have wanted to run it much closer.

The inquest can now begin as to just how this season ended up taking the downward turn that it did and what needs to change in the future to prevent a repeat performance.

At least, though, if you are to have a seriously wobbly year then avoiding disaster is something to grab a hold of and, if not cherish, then be satisfied about.

It would take a brave person indeed to argue that there doesn’t need to be an element of change both on and off the field at St Mary’s.

That has to go from the very top too where the many unanswered questions regarding the ownership and the future direction of the club must be addressed to give everyone below, including, crucially, the supporters, a chance of a clean slate and to restore unity.

That said, Saints fans didn’t voice the anger they have portrayed away from the stadium, or even a vague feeling of dissatisfaction, and instead produced regular chants of ‘we are staying up.’ Fair enough given there has been so little to cheer, but it also had the potential to suggest to the owners and board, who were present, that they are in actual fact content with things.

The lap of appreciation at the end of the game told a similar story.

A year ago some fans were hurling abuse at Claude Puel after finishing eighth and narrowly losing the EFL Cup final. This season there were smiles, cheers and jubilant chanting at narrowly avoiding relegation.

Saints have been fortunate to get out of this.

Finishing with their joint worst home tally in the 20 team Premier League era and with slightly less than the average points total required to avoid relegation sums it up.

Big decisions need to be made in terms of the top level management of the club, and also the future of Mark Hughes.

He has clearly put himself in pole position to get the job on a full-time basis if he wants it and there is inevitably a clamour for it to happen given the excellent work he has done in revitalising a squad on its knees.

But there must also be unanimity of support from above him that he is a good long-term appointment, while he also has to be satisfied with the situation he will be taking on.

Whoever is the manager will then have to turn their attentions to the squad.

While there has been a feeling that they are better than what they have produced for long periods of the campaign, there is a lot of work to be done.

That not only goes for the players that are at the club who need a new direction and purpose, and a new target maybe having felt they had hit the glass ceiling in years prior to this one, but also in terms of recruitment.

The final day visit of Manchester City was a bit of a damp squib in some ways due to an annoying ending for Saints.

Obviously the game didn’t have that much riding on it, and the champions didn’t give the show of flowing football that would have provided an entertaining finale, though you have to give much credit to Saints who did well and showed resolve.

They knew they had to be solid and professional and they did that, often showing more intensity than City.

Saints had the better of the first half chances with Jack Stephens’ deflected shot stopped by Claudio Bravo while Wesley Hoedt headed against the bar and scuffed a half volley into the side netting.

With Swansea losing by half time and the Saints game goalless any lingering worries had well and truly been extinguished, even for the most pessimistic of fans.

The second half was a party atmosphere.

Man City had a few brighter moments but Saints were resolute.

Sterling’s deflected shot hit the post, John Stones forced Alex McCarthy to turn his header over the bar while Kevin De Bruyne flashed a low shot narrowly wide.

Saints also had a couple of moments in an attacking sense but James Ward-Prowse’s header was saved while Dusan Tadic showed remarkable skill to beat Bravo a couple of times but his eventual shot was cleared off the line by Fernandinho.

City did make the breakthrough in stoppage time to reach 100 points as De Bruyne’s long ball over the top found Gabriel Jesus who brilliantly brought it down and lifted over McCarthy.

At least it didn’t really matter.

Saints may need to do some soul searching this summer but at least when they kick-off again in August it will be in the Premier League.