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Not the first time

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The Saints are down. After over a decade of throwing haymakers with their more prestigious and financially-secure competitors, Southampton’s fate has been confirmed after the 0-2 loss to Fulham. However, this is not the first time that they have been relegated. Here’s a look at the last time Southampton got relegated from the Premier League, and when they got promoted again-

When was Southampton last relegated?

Southampton was last relegated in the 2004/05 season after 27 consecutive years in the first division.

They finished 20th, winning just six of their 38 games, conceding 66 goals. It was a season of upheaval for the Saints as they ran through three managers- Harry Redknapp, Paul Sturrock, and Steve Wigley in an effort to get out of the rut they were stuck in.

That Southampton team had various players who would go on to become well-known names in the Premier League folklore.

They saw the emergence of a fresh-faced Theo Walcott, who would go on to have a very respectable career at the top level. Peter Crouch also got his maiden English national team call-up while playing for the Saints this season, his only year with the team. He top-scored for the Saints with 12 league goals.

Rory Delap, who has an almost cult status in the Premier League due to his long throws with Stoke City under Tony Pulis was the lead appearance maker of this Southampton side. It would be 8 years before Southampton would return. However, this relegation was not even the worst thing. They got further relegated to League One, the third tier of English football, due to financial irregularities and went into administration.

In the third division, Nigel Adkins was appointed, where he performed the miracle of achieving back-to-back promotions.

When did Southampton get promoted?

Southampton were promoted back into Premier League in the 2011/12 season after finishing 2nd in their first season back in the Championship from League One.

2012/13 was their first season back in the Premier League. It saw the sacking of fan-favourite Nigel Adkins midway as Southampton flirted with relegation. In his place came an unknown quantity by the name of Mauricio Pochettino. Thus, a virtuous cycle of results began.

Southampton quickly became the envy of bigger clubs as their player recruitment and academy churned out world-class talent. The team was gutted repeatedly by the elites, with the likes of Sadio Mane, Luke Shaw, and Rickie Lambert leveraging their successful seasons with the Saints for a move to a bigger club. Even managers weren’t secure, as Pochettino and Ronald Koeman were lured by lucrative offers elsewhere.

With a record-high finish of 6th, under Ronald Koeman in the 2015/16 season, Southampton peaked in the Premier League. Ultimately, even their scouting system and world-class academy couldn’t replace the proven quality they kept losing to bigger clubs.

The writing has been on the wall since the 2017/18 season when they finished 17th. Since then, they haven’t finished in the top-half, with only Ralph Hussenhutl providing a brief period of hope.

Southampton’s Premier League stay has been far more successful and prestigious than most clubs that get promoted. There have been European adventures, some world-class players and managers, a recognisable style of play, and a lot of respect from their rivals for their way of football operations.

However, the real challenge begins now. Many clubs can get lost in the cluster of intense Championship football. Furthermore, it is likely that Southampton lose many of their key players who are undoubtedly too good for the second division. The likes of James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia, and Armel Bella-Kotchap are just three names who will garner interest.

A delicate balancing act awaits at St Mary’s Stadium.

Vatsal Gupta
A die-hard Red Devil, who has straight up not had a good time since 2012. Lives on Korean dramas and books and can often be heard talking about armchair psychological stuff.

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