Since their return, they have spent big on players such as Gaston Ramirez and Jay Rodriguez, and despite a poor first few seasons, where they have been fighting to stay in the league, they have done brilliantly so far this season, under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino. It is your aim in FM to recreate this, and use the Saints vast young talents to build a solid team, capable of challenging in the top half of the table. This can be done with the help of the club’s very impressive youth academy, which in recent times, have been responsible for the likes of Arsenal teammates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, and the world’s most expensive player, in Gareth Bale. This standard of young stars is still there, and should be one of the key points in the club’s future.
Budgets and Finance
While Southampton are not the wealthiest of clubs, their rise in stature in recent years has seen a vast improvement in their finances. The club has surprisingly low expectations for the season ahead, but with the budgets you have, you could easily surpass the mid-table finish that is expected from you. If you feel that this is the best you will achieve, or simply do not want the added pressure of setting expectations too high, then the budget offered for a mid-table finish is £4 million. This should be enough to make one or two improvements to your squad. However, if you think your squad can do better than that, there are 2 higher options for you to choose. The first, and probably most realistic for the regular FM player, is asking for you to finish in the top half, and giving you a £5.75 million transfer budget, as well as a 1.1k wage budget. The final option increases your transfer budget slightly to £6 million, but keeps your wage allowance the same, for the target of reaching the Europa League. As this barely gives you more funds, and is a quite difficult ask for your squad, only very experienced players, or those who are looking for a good challenge, should try this.
The 4-2-3-1 has become one of the most used formations worldwide, and for good reason. It utilises all the positions of a football pitch, making for an extremly stable, yet dangerous formation. The two central defensive midfielders will be key, as one of them will be vital in your defensive work, attempting to cut off the supply lines from the strikers to the midfielders. Your wide attacking players will also be crucial to the success of this tactic, as they will need to interchange, and play of each other well, as well as providing good support for the lone striker.
This formation, is used sparingly, can be one of the cleverest ways of breaking down your opposition, whilst maintaining a strong back line. It focuses on a packed midfield, something which Southampton should have no problems with. The 3 more defensive ones should act as one unit, attacking and defending all as one, allowing your side strength in numbers, in all tasks on the pitch. The other positions key to making this formation work, are the two fullbacks. The only wide players on your team, they play a massive role in cutting out the oppositions attacking threat down the wings, as well as offer another attacking outlet when needed.
The final formation you should consider using when in charge of the Saints is the 4-4-1-1. This should be used in only certain situations, mostly against teams with a very strong defensive line. This is due to the central attacking midfielder,the key point of this formation, who is the lynchpin in your attacking force. He should be able to spread play to the wings, as well as thread through balls into your striker. To utilise this formation to its best, you also need an all-round striker, able to head crosses in from the wings, and finish from inside the box.
First 11 Positional Analysis
Goalkeeper- Southampton have a decent amount of variety between the sticks. Your first choice, will be 33 year old Polish international, Artur Boruc. Despite his age, Boruc can do a very good job in goal, due to his high determination and reflexes. For backup, you have two main choices. Firstly, there is 35 year old veteran Davis, who can be useful in cup games, when Boruc needs a rest. However, as he is reaching the end of the career, it might be better to not play him as much as your other backup option, Paulo Gazzaniga. The 21 year old has great potential, and will surpass Boruc in a few years. This means you will want him to develop as much as possible, so rotating him as your starter, or loaning him out, are good ideas.
Left Back- The left back role is dominated by one player in particular, one of Southampton’s most exciting youth prospects, English U18 star, Luke Shaw. Shaw has outstanding potential, enough to be one of the worlds best fullback in the future. This means it is vital for you to keep hold of him, despite the money that larger clubs will offer for him. As backup, you can play another youngster, 22 year old Nathaniel Clyne, who although is more suited to the right, can perform well on the left as well. The other player who you should consider as backup is Danny Fox, a 27 year old, who can fit into your team, incase of injuries or suspensions.
Centre Backs- Your centre back position is one with much more experience, and is also very well packed. Your first choice here, and one of the first names on the teamsheet anyway, will be record signing, Dejan Lovren. The solid 24 year old will be at the heart of your very strong defensive line. You then have several options, which you will need to rotate, to find who fits into your style the best. The first of these is Maya Yoshida, another 24 year old. Yoshida, a Japanese international has good potential, but will need some training to help out some of his lesser attributes. If however, you would like a more current option, one will less potential, but more all-rounded stats, look no further than Jose Fonte, a 29 year old who can easily slot in alongside Lovren, forming a good partnership. The final player able to play here, is 30 year old Jos Hooiveld. The veteran Holland international should not be playing many games for you, as he lacks in both ability and potential. If you are short on cash, you may want to consider selling him, due to the apparent strength, already in this position.
Right Back- Southampton boast strength in defence, and the right back position is no different. Your first choice will be the 22 year old, Nathaniel Clyne. The Englishman can play in a variety of positions, with right back his preference. He is effective both going forward, and doing his defensive duties, making him the ideal player for formations such as the 4-3-1-2. Backup however, is limited, with the only other senior player in that role able to play there is Danny Fox, who should only be called upon if you are struggling to name a team, or in cup fixtures. There is though, a bright future in this role for Southampton, with another youngster 16 year old Callum Chambers, one of the Saints’ best rising stars, very capable of taking this role for his own when he is older. He will need lots of playing experience if he is to reach his full potential, so loaning him out is a very good idea.
Left Midfielders/Wingers- This position is not packed with quality, but Pablo Osvaldo can drop into the role of AML easily, or left midfield, at a last resort. Promising Welshman, Lloyd Isgrove is also primarily an AML, so he is one to watch as well. The left midfield position does not offer much to the team, with left back Danny Fox providing the best cover there. Attacking midfielder Gastón Ramírez, much like Osvaldo, should be a last resort here. This is an area that needs much improvement if you are to be successful with a formation that includes wide men.
Central Midfielders/Central Attacking Midfielders- This formation is oozing with talent, especially now that Kenyan international Victor Wanyama has signed for the side during the summer from Celtic. He is sure to provide a quality service for your squad and if partnered with Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin, they will be a highly creative force and hold the team together during opposition attacks. Adam Lallana and Jack Cork will provide more than sufficient cover if needed, or even push for a first team spot. Moving onto the central attacking midfielder role, and Gastón Ramírez is your best option here, due to his fantastic creativity which will allow you to have some brilliant balls played through to your strikers. Adam Lallana will also do a great job for your team if you decide to play him over Ramírez.
Right Midfielders/Wingers- Another position which could do with lots of reinforcements, the right midfield spot is very threadbare. First and only choice for the midfield role is Jack Cork, primarily a centre-mid, the 24 year old is your best option, due to his solid defensive work, and strong passing ability. Cork will grow much better playing more centrally, but if he isn’t getting games there, you might want to consider moving him to more wide role. The only other potential option here is Adam Lallana. Lallana, a long-time Saints favourite, is much more capable playing as a centre attacking mid, but will be able to play as a right midfielder if needs be, however, not very effectively, due to his less than sufficient crossing ability.
Striker- Southampton have 3 very able options upfront, all with their strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, is the new signing from Roma, 27 year old Italian Pablo Osvaldo. Osvaldo cost a lot of money for the Saints in real life, and is slowing but surely finding his feet in the Premier League. In game, he is a very all rounded striker, and is especially talented in an advanced forward or poacher role, however his average work rate could let him down. Your next option is another fans favourite, Rickie Lambert. Lambert was an integral part of Southampton's promotion winning side, scoring a remarkable 27 goals along the way. He has kept up this form in the top flight, even breaking into the England side. The 31 year old is now a feared target man, both in real life, and in game. His strength and heading make him ideal for this role, and his impressive passing and creativity means he can act both as a supporting striker and attacking midfielder as well. Your final choice here is Jay Rodriguez. Rodriguez joined from Burnley last season, but has found it hard to break into the side. His current ability may be less than the other two, but his potential just about makes up for it, and this may persuade you to play him fairly often.
Position 1- Left Winger: This position, as stated, is a position that needs a lot of improvement. Players that would be very suitable for this role are Welshman, Craig Bellamy. Despite the fact that he is aging, the Cardiff City player, who has played for teams such as Manchester City and Liverpool, is still very able and should not cost more than £2 million. Other options are Sylvain Marveaux of Newcastle United, who will also be capable of filling the role, and allow you to push Osvaldo up to his more natural position in the striker role.
Position 2- Right Midfielder: Another position which requires lots of work, there are fewer options on the market here. If you are looking for experience, and someone who can hold down the position very well, you might want to look at Lazio player, 28 year old Álvaro González. González is an extremely versatile player, who can play all across midfield, as well as all down the right hand side of the pitch. This makes him a great buy, however you will have to shelve out about £5 million for him. If you are looking for a younger, cheaper option, you will definitely want to look at Brentford player Adam Forshaw, a 21 year old with bags of potential. He will only cost you around the £3 million mark, and will be very good in the future.
So after reading this guide, I hope you have taken away some vital information about how you will be able to use your tactics, squad, and transfer budget to the best of your ability. I urge you if you are unsure about something, to give it a go, and see how your experiences differentiate from the ones in this guide.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.