Michael Dawson

Premier League Preview: Southampton

There are only 3 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Southampton.

Southampton enjoyed a very successful last season under manager Mauricio Pochettino and finished 8th in the Premier League. All looked well at St Mary’s until this summer when a mass exodus took place. Pochettino has departed, joining Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and key players Lallana, Shaw, Lovren and Lambert followed him out of the door with Rodriguez and Schneiderlin set to leave the club too. Bright prospect Calum Chambers has also left for Arsenal. Suddenly, Southampton look like a side in free-fall and will be battling for relegation rather than pushing for a place in Europe.

The Manager
Ronald Koeman enjoyed a glittering playing career for the likes of Barcelona and Ajax, scoring over 200 goals which is remarkable for a defender. He has since turned his attention to management and has had spells with Ajax, Benfica and Valencia, to name but a few. He has been relatively successful in his time as a manager, winning the Eredivisie on several occasions and the Copa Del Rey. The Premier League represents a new challenge for the Dutchman.

Koeman enjoyed a stunning playing career

Koeman enjoyed a stunning playing career

Biggest Signing
This summer, Southampton have brought in two new faces; Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord and Dusan Tadic from FC Twente in deals worth a combined £20 million. Pelle will arguably be viewed as the bigger signing by Saints fans as he played under Koeman at Feyenoord for the past two seasons and scored 50 goals. They will hope that he can at least match the goal-scoring contributions of Rickie Lambert.

Can Pelle be an instant hit in the Premier League?

Can Pelle be an instant hit in the Premier League?

Who is tipped to join them?
Koeman has declared his interest in Villa captain Ron Vlaar as a potential replacement for the departing Dejan Lovren. Southampton are also rumoured to hold an interest in Danny Ings, Fraser Forster and Argentine full-back Marcos Rojo.

Koeman has expressed his desire to bring Vlaar to Southampton

Koeman has expressed his desire to bring Vlaar to Southampton

Who should they sign?
With so many key players departing, Koeman is in desperate need of several quality recruits. Vlaar would be a good replacement for Lovren and it may be possible to prise him away from the West Midlands club as he is entering the final year of his contract. If he is unavailable, however, then a move for Younes Kaboul or Michael Dawson could be an option as a makeweight in the Schneiderlin deal. Schneiderlin is tougher to replace. A move for Cardiff’s Gary Medel would be smart, although they would have to fend off interest from the likes of Inter Milan.

Medel would be a great capture for the Saints

Medel would be a great capture for the Saints

Key Player
James Ward-Prowse. Remarkably, the Southampton academy product has already made around 50 appearances for the Saints despite being only 19. He is a player with a very bright future ahead of him and this could be the season for him to step up to the plate, especially with so many of their key players departing.

This could be a big season for Southampton's academy product

This could be a big season for Southampton’s academy product

Prediction
Southampton have lost so many players that it’s hard to see them enjoying a season similar to the last campaign. Koeman has no Premier League experience and will undoubtedly take time to adjust to the rigorous demands. So too will his signings so far and the quicker they adapt to life in English football the better. I see this being a season of struggle for the Saints but believe they are able to survive, although it will be close. Expect Southampton to finish 17th.

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Premier League Preview: Hull City

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Hull.

On the face of things, referring purely to the Premier League table from last year, Hull had a pretty bad season, finishing in 16th place and a mere 4 points above the relegation zone. However, in reality, Hull had a very successful season. They reached the final of the FA Cup, which affected their league form towards the back end of the season, and for the majority of the campaign they looked a solid Premier League side.

The Manager
Steve Bruce has been the manager of Hull City for two years now, getting Hull promoted to the Premier League in his first season in charge through automatic promotion and keeping them afloat in his second. He’s a well-respected and liked manager throughout the game with previous spells at Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City.

Steve Bruce has enjoyed 2 very good seasons in Hull

Steve Bruce has enjoyed 2 very good seasons in Hull

Biggest Signing
Hull City’s chairman, Assem Allam, seems to have confidence in Steve Bruce as shown by his willingness to pay good money for proven Premier League players such as Tom Huddlestone, Shane Long and Nikica Jelavić. Despite signing Tom Ince on a free this summer I would argue that the purchase of Robert Snodgrass will be their best signing as he has performed well in the Premier League previously with Norwich City whereas Ince hardly impressed in his spell with Palace. Hull have also secured the services of Jake Livermore on a permanent basis, who was an important part of their midfield last season, and that is a good piece of business from the club.

Robert Snodgrass is a proven Premier League performer

Robert Snodgrass is a proven Premier League performer

Who is tipped to join them?
Michael Dawson has been linked and Bruce declared his admiration for the player but also admitted it may be hard to persuade Tottenham to sell at the price they are offering due to the number of years left on Dawson’s contract. Steve Bruce is also hopeful of making Harry Maguire from Sheffield United his fourth signing of the summer with a fee close to being agreed with United.

Harry Maguire is reported to be en route to the KC Stadium

Harry Maguire is reported to be en route to the KC Stadium

Who should they sign?
Hull have a strong squad and Steve Bruce is right in declaring that it’s the best squad the club has ever had in it’s history. One area they could perhaps strengthen is the centre-back area, which they are looking to do because of a lack of partners for Curtis Davies. Dawson would be an excellent acquisition in that respect and Bruce seems to be on the right track with his recruitment drive.

Michael Dawson would be a terrific capture for Hull

Michael Dawson would be a terrific capture for Hull

Key Player
Voted player of the season last year Curtis Davies will once again be Hull’s key player for the coming season. It’s always important to build from the defence when forming a good, solid team and Davies provides just that for Hull. Hull will need big performances from Davies once again in order to build on last season’s success.

Davies is crucial to Hull's Premier League aspirations

Davies is crucial to Hull’s Premier League aspirations

Prediction
I think that Hull will go from strength to strength this coming season with the Long/Jelavić partnership having had a whole pre-season to develop and Huddlestone/Livermore providing a good platform in the centre of midfield. I expect them to finish in the top half of the table, which would represent an excellent campaign. Expect Hull to finish 10th.