The big news this week is that Russell Martin has signed a new contract as Saints boss. It has not come as a surprise to me at all.

It's probably better to do these things whilst you're not focusing on the day-to-day, week-to-week of the games.

There's a lot of work and attention that goes around that and that time isn't there once the season's underway.

It's great news for all of us to know that the future of Russell and his staff is secured long-term. It's almost like with a player as well. 

There's always a little rumbling if they have a year to go and stuff like that. We're talking about these things all the time in the media and we're aware of it.

It's now one of those topics that's off the table. Russell has been the first to say all along, it's not just down to him - he gives his team a lot of credit and rightly so.

Saints boss Russell Martin is here to stay after guiding the club to the Premier LeagueSaints boss Russell Martin is here to stay after guiding the club to the Premier League (Image: Richard Crease)

In any team, you sometimes have that one leader or superstar, but you can't do it without the collective effort and input of everybody else.

It's good to see the recognition of the contracts being implemented long-term for his staff as well - ready for a season with sold-out season tickets. 

I think the announcement of that sold-out status is a great sign of positivity around the club and amongst everybody in the city. 

Promotion and the way that we finished the campaign have helped with that. A lot of people want to see the team and how we go back in the Premier League.

It's exciting times. There are changes in the stadium as well and there's a lot of work going on with Northam becoming an entire home end for us.

It will be brilliant to see how that works for us and how the team will approach that. Will they want to kick that way for the second half?

Are those preferences coming into it yet? I don't know but it's certainly going to be a good thing. I know there's probably been a few supporters that have been displaced.

However, I'm sure we'll all become very accustomed to it. I think it'll be a great thing for the atmosphere in the stadium.

There have been efforts and things put in place to try and support the supporters themselves at Saints over the last couple of years. 

It is about making the club an attractive thing to sign up and come along and watch games full stop, whether that's through a season ticket or any other way.

The experience around the matchday is an important thing nowadays. We've seen questions here and things being changed.

Fan zones and things like that around the bowl. You want people to come, not just for the football, but to have the enjoyment and make an experience of it.

With the way that the sales have gone, it can only be a positive thing - and it always helps when the team are winning on the pitch.

We're in a great place at the moment and I'm sure everyone will be ready for the first game at Newcastle, albeit a very tough one.

I'm really pleased that Russell will be taking his side to Eastleigh for a rare friendly match in less than a couple of weeks.

Former Saints duo Kelvin Davis and Danny Butterfield at the helm in EastleighFormer Saints duo Kelvin Davis and Danny Butterfield at the helm in Eastleigh (Image: Graham Scambler)

As we know, many Eastleigh fans are Saints fans and vice versa. They've watched all the fixtures depending on where the teams are playing.

With that connection with Kelvin Davis and Butts - Danny Butterfield - at Eastleigh now, I'm sure that's had something to do with it.

It's great for Saints not to have to travel that far at all to play and start getting the games underway.

It's often as important as the season itself. The work that's done pre-season is a key time for the players. The match is all part of that.

It's almost a no-brainer for me, this kind of game. It will be a good test and an opportunity for Eastleigh, for Saints to go along and play on their doorstep.

There will be supporters alongside one another with both allegiances and probably fans that support both teams. I'm sure it will be a brilliant crowd.

From a professional perspective, I think Kelvin will be delighted to have Saints and the first team come along but he'll want to be working on his plan.

That competitive edge will come in and he'll want to do well in winning the game. It's certainly not just a going-through-the-motions scenario.

This is a serious part of pre-season and a key part of the preparations for the big game on the first day of their respective campaigns.

Hope you are all well and have a great weekend,