It happens every season. A team who usually tend to roam around the lower regions of the Premier League, find themselves much nearer to the top of the English football pyramid than they’re acclaimed to. They find themselves beating top teams, and gaining continental praise. The next step of this transition from being a lower mid-table club, to growing into an internationally renowned footballing powerhouse is an achievement, something that makes football fans everywhere sit up and take notice. Maybe a League Cup, or finishing in a European spot. You are now in the Europa League.
The transition will now take one of two paths. Hopefully you will spend well in the summer, and end up doing impressively in Europe’s second-string cup competition, and maybe even gain a Champions League place for the following season.
This is sadly very rare and the most common product from Europa League football is a shallow squad, plagued with fatigue, leading to a poor league result way below expectations. Newcastle are the perfect example. The Toon produced a stunning 2011/12 campaign, finishing above both Liverpool and Chelsea. They just missed out on Champions League place but were delighted to end the season siting in fifth place and therefore in possession of a Europa League place. Boss Alan Pardew was rewarded with a mega eight-year deal, and 9 new players were brought in. The following season was a disaster. They finished just two places away from relegation.
This is what Southampton must avoid. Ideally they will spend big in the summer, Tie down Pochettino to a long term contract, keep hold of their young stars and bypass The Europa League for the Champions League, but is that really realistic? Will we see Bayern Munich and Barcelona at The St Mary’s stadium in just one year and a half? Both players and manager have spoken of the dream so who’s to say it’s impossible?
It definitely won’t be easy but if they perform to their maximum capabilities, then why not? They’ve shown they can beat anyone on their day.