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This week has seen more transfer rumours linking Southampton players with moves in January.
Faced with interest in the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Jay Rodriguez, Saints must keep their talents and make a concerted effort to break into the top four.
When our board took the decision to let go many of the team that took us to eighth in the league last season, fans couldn’t believe that such a sell-off was taking place.
In hindsight, a coup was pulled off as big fees were received for players who have mostly struggled since leaving St Mary’s.
The business that was done in signing quality replacements was also remarkable and all of the new additions have settled in well. Our start – combined with teams like Liverpool and Tottenham underperforming – has given us a fantastic opportunity to finish in the top four.
So now is not the time to consider offers from rival clubs, no matter how high they are. If Tottenham are interested in Rodriguez or Morgan Schneiderlin, then we must be strong and refuse any of their bids. The same applies if Liverpool come in for Clyne. It would be utterly nonsensical for both Saints and the players involved if they were to leave.
At this moment, we’re a much better prospect than either Spurs or the Reds. We’re 11 points above both in the table and I can’t see them reeling us in any time soon. I accept that we are not likely to maintain our current level of form, but I’ve seen nothing from Liverpool or Tottenham to suggest that they will catch us up.
Both clubs are playing poorly for differing reasons; Liverpool’s struggles are emanating from a combination of sub-standard signings and an injury to Daniel Sturridge that has robbed them of a goal threat. Tottenham’s problems are more deep-rooted in a failure to adapt to Mauricio Pochettino’s ideology and the board not signing players in the summer to fit that.
I don’t think those clubs are in for a quick fix, at least not this season anyway. So for purely footballing reasons, the likes of Clyne and Rodriguez would be better off staying at St Mary’s and seeing how things develop at a place where they are seen as key players.
They only need to look at the struggles of Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert at Anfield, and Ben Davies who has hardly featured since leaving Swansea to join Spurs, to see that the grass isn’t necessarily greener at the ‘bigger’ club.
Saints are reportedly set to open contract talks with Clyne, Schneiderlin and Rodriguez and the message should be clear: stay and see how far up the league you can take us.
If we fall away, then we can reassess the situation in the summer. But we have to make the most of this opportunity to challenge for the top four – because such a great chance might not come along again any time soon.