‘Super Saints’, ‘Stunning Saints’, ‘Sensational Saints’ – call them what you like, because every single one of them fits. Southampton sit five points clear at the top, well on their way to a return to the Premier League. Last weekend, they extended their astonishing streak to 17 home wins in a row.

TheHardTackle looks at ten reasons (in no particular order of important) why Southampton have reached such dizzy heights after suffering administration only two years ago.

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NEW PLAYERS – SQUAD OVERHAUL

Itai??i??s a simple place to start. Without the team that plays every week, Southampton would not be top of the league. They are the ones that have made St Maryai??i??s a bastion that has yet to be conquered this season. The squad is wholly different to the one that played during the Saints last Championship campaign. Only Kelvin Davis, Morgan Schneiderlin and Adam Lallana remain in the current squad from the team that faced Nottingham Forest on the last day of the 2008-09 season.

Adam Lallana's been here a long time!

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The significant changes were necessary and plentiful. Between August 2009 and January 2010, Saints saw 12 players transferred in and 4 players loaned in; 8 leave permanently and 10 leave on a temporary basis. Of those, 5 new players are still appearing regularly for the first team. Rickie Lambert, Dean Hammond, David Connolly, Jose Fonte and Aaron Martin find themselves involved frequently and are relied upon to provide results, and to date they are.

…,

NEW ENTRANTS.

The major overhaul of the squad during 2009-2011 meant that upon promotion to the Championship this season, additions were minimal. Jack Cork, Danny Fox, Steve De Ridder and Jos Hooiveld have come in and begun to gel with the team very well. All have experience at Championship level or above and this is evident in their ability to competently hold their own (and in some cases excel) this season.

One player that should be given a special mention is Richard Chaplow who has been in inspired form this season. Signed permanently in January 2011, Chaplow has found exceptional form this season in his new role as a winger. His gutsy terrier like performances have made a significant impact on both the fans and the campaign so far.

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NIGEL ADKINS’ MANAGEMENT

Questions posed to Nigel Adkins during interviews are often responded to in a David Brent (from the BBC comedy ‘The Office’) manner. He is a ai???managerai??i?? and doesnai??i??t shy away from the sometimes clichAi?? management speak. That management speak is clearly received well by the team. His style of play is a passing game, keeping the ball on the floor and intelligently reading the game to choose the best option. This makes for an interesting watch for both Southampton fans and the neutrals.

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CLUB’S POSITIVE MENTALITY.

The manager has instilled a ai???beliefai??i?? in the club. Thereai??i??s a positive vibe at the club which can undoubtedly be put down to a continued run of good performances. As the good performances continue, the better the belief becomes. Adkins has said on a number of occasions that everyone is still realistic about the table and the clubs that are pushing for promotion. It is a competitive league and the team are aware that switching off at any moment could be costly. That said, with a realistic belief that the squad is capable of achieving, they are half the way there.

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EXPERIENCED BACKROOM STAFF

Adkins is the manager but the team requires more than one person to guide them. Southamptonai??i??s management and backroom staff totals 42 and the boss has emphasised the massive part they play. Assistant Manager Andy Crosby and First Team Coach Dean Wilkins bring a wealth of experience.

Crosby joined Southampton with Adkins in September 2010 and his familiarity with the defensive duties of the game has helped to shore up the back four at Southampton. Crosby carved out a successful career in the football league spending the last 6 years of his playing time at Scunthorpe Utd.

Dean Wilkins, brother of Ray Wilkins the former England midfielder arrived at Southampton in July 2009. He managed Brighton & Hove Albion took a step out of the spotlight to take up the role of First Team Coach at St Marys. With over 300 appearances for Brighton between 1987 and 1996, his knowledge of the game and more specifically, the midfield contribute significantly to running things from the middle of the park.

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MOMENTUM FROM LAST SEASON.

Momentum is the way forward. Southampton ended the 2010-11 season in high spirits and even better form. A significant reason to the impressive start to the season has to be put down to continuing the form and building upon it. With every good performance, confidence grows, lessons are learnt and the team moves forward.

Southampton ended last season with a 3-1 home win against Walsall, they then started this season with a 3-1 home win over Leeds. The club had alleviated some of the 2010-11 pressure by gaining the sought after promotion and satisfying the chairman and fans alike. Being buoyant from the promotion was a great weapon to have in the Arsenal.

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APPROPRIATE MIX OF EXPERIENCE & ENTHUSIASM

As with most successful squads, a mixture of experience and energy has the making of a formidable force. Comparatively Southamptonai??i??s squad isnai??i??t that young; the average age of the team most recently put out was 26.7. Adam Lallana looks as though he has been playing at Championship (if not Premiership!) level for years.

St Mary's - Home to the Championship leaders

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At 23 years old, he has bags of talent and vision beyond his years. His improvement in the last 2 seasons has been noticeable and the influence of some of the experienced players has clearly played its part. Rickie Lambert is one of those experienced players. Consistently scoring 20+ goals a season, his eye for goal and awareness is a real asset to the team.

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STADIUM CONDITIONS.

The fortress of St Maryai??i??s allows Southampton to play the football they aim to. The excellent condition of the pitch mean the ball can be played along the floor with ease. With the passing game being the objective, a Bowling Green type pitch to play on makes this all the more easier.

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SUPPORTERS – STOOD BY HORRIBLE TIMES

Football teams would be nowhere without the support of their fans. Southampton is no different. Saints are 3rd in attendance rankings with an average of just under 25,000 and the Northam faithful are always audible. Adkins always praises how the fans get behind the team in both good and bad times.

As a whole, Saints fans have seen some tough times. Administration seems like a lifetime ago but is ever present in their passion for the club. During those tough times, shops local to St Maryai??i??s stadium were collecting money to save their club. They invested their money along with their time and enthusiasm; theyai??i??re now enjoying the good times.

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THE LATE MARCUS LIEBHERR – A ST. MARY’S IMMORTAL

It would be safe to say that Southampton would not be where they are at this time without Marcus Liebherr. In July 2009, when the future looked particularly bleak he invested his time, money and enthusiasm into the club. This was the start of a 5-year plan to take the Saints back to the Premier League, a plan that is 3 years down the line and by all accounts, on track. Southampton fans felt they lost a lifelong Saint when Marcus sadly passed away in August 2010. Heai??i??d undoubtedly be proud to see how far the team has come.

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Written by guest author Josh Billinge

Follow Josh on twitterAi??@judgementaljosh

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5 Responses to “Southampton’s Corner: 10 Reasons Behind St. Mary’s Invincibles”

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  1. Stephen says:

    An eleventh would be Player Development. Adkins has taken players, made them fit, made them believe, and made them better.

  2. tom says:

    And 12 …. its just a great time to be a saint ( Absolutely marvelous read by the way )

  3. Aditya Sharma says:

    Should be a great team to watch out for next year in the Premeirship.. let’s hope they don’t lose any key players in the upcoming transfer windows

  4. callum says:

    fantastic, really made me proud to be from southampton and a saint through and through. 1st game i ever went to with my dad when i was 7 for my birthday–manchester united…. a 6-3 win for the mighty red n white! and my passion for the club was born! great article!

  5. Thanks for your comments guys. Much appreciated. Josh (@judgementaljosh)