In 2001 the move from the Dell to the new St Mary’s Stadium was something of a spiritual homecoming for Southampton Football Club.

The team that play in red and white today can trace their roots back to the club formed in 1885 by members of St. Mary’s Church Young Men’s association who played their football on the banks of the Itchen for 13 years before moving on.

Originally called Southampton St. Mary’s, the club joined the Southern League in 1894 and won the championship for three years running between 1897 and 1899 and again in 1901, 1903 and 1904.

That success spanned some major changes for the Saints as they moved to a newly built £10,000 stadium called The Dell in 1898.

Although they would spend the next 103 years there, the future was far from certain in those early days and the club had to rent the premises first before they could stump up the cash to buy the stadium outright in the early part of the next century.

The signing of Kevin Keegan, twice European Footballer of the Year, from Hamburg, was a masterstroke by McMenemy, a move which stunned the football world and one that was followed in the 1983/84 season by the most successful campaign in the club’s history.

With the great Peter Shilton in goal they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the league and reached the FA Cup semi-finals, losing to Everton in extra time.

By finishing fifth in 1984/85 Saints qualified for European football for the fourth time in five seasons and the following year reached the FA Cup semi-finals again, only to go out to Liverpool.

…in the last 5 years

Following the resignation of Mauricio Pochettino after the 2013/14 season, the new board sourced former Holland international Ronald Koeman as the Argentine’s replacement in the dug-out at St Mary’s.

Koeman swiftly galvanised a squad which had the heart ripped out of it by some big money departures in that summer.

He helped to source replacements who hit the ground running at St Mary’s, with the likes of Graziano Pellè, Dušan Tadić and Sadio Mané coming to England with a point to prove.

Koeman, assisted by his brother Erwin, fitness coach Jan Kluitenberg, former Saints man Sammy Lee and England goalkeeper coach Dave Watson formed a new-look coaching set-up which in their first season helped guide the club to a best ever Premier League finish of seventh place.

That brought with it Europa League football which returned to St Mary’s for the first time in 12 years, confirming the club’s status as an established top half Premier League team.

The Markus Liebherr pavilion was also unveiled, with the club’s outstanding new training facilities opened and inhabited by the first team and academy’s support staff.

If the 2014/15 season had been one to savour, what was to follow in 2015/16 was even more spectacular.

While it began in frustrating circumstances, with an exit from the Europa League play-off stages at the hands of Danish champions FC Midtjylland, things soon were on an upward trajectory again.

Famous wins over the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City ensured a new record Premier League finish, as Saints secured sixth position and qualification for the group stages of the Europa League.

They would go into them under the guidance of Claude Puel, the former Monaco, Lille, Lyon and Nice boss, who replaced Koeman, after he left to join Everton.

Puel, joined by coaches Eric Black and Pascal Plancque, would lead Southampton to the League Cup final, beating Premier League sides at each stage, including a famous semi-final success over Liverpool.

Sadly, a cruel 3-2 defeat would follow in the final against Manchester United, despite Saints being viewed as the better side on the day.

An eighth-placed finish would also be secured, on 46 points – 17 less than the tally a year previously – with the club parting company with Puel in the summer.

Replacing him was Mauricio Pellegrino, who was appointed manager in June 2017.

The Argentinian boss, who previously played and coached at Valencia and Liverpool, arrived after leading Spanish side Alaves to one of the greatest seasons in their history.

August 2017 would also see a new face at the top of the club, as a new partnership was reached with Chinese businessman Mr Jisheng Gao.

Pellegrino’s spell in charge came to an end in March 2018, as the club replaced him with former striker Mark Hughes, ahead of the final eight matches of the Premier League campaign.

Here’s some Southampton blogs:

http://georgeweahscousin.com/

http://www.gomarchingin.co.uk/

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