What has happened at St Mary’s this summer?
Here, the Daily Echo examines and analyses the comings and goings and the state of the club.
So just what has gone on since last season finished – it all seemed so bright?
The seeds of these problems were sown before last season ended.
For the last couple of months of 2013/14 there was uncertainty over Mauricio Pochettino’s future.
Ex-Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino
That, in turn, led to a power vacuum.
Saints were already looking almost certainly assured of an eighth place finish and, without strong leadership, things started to drift.
Was that Pochettino’s fault then?
Pochettino certainly had a certain hand in it, but that was only because he wasn’t prepared to commit his future to Saints for reasons that became obvious as he moved to Tottenham.
The trouble was that, after such a successful season, it was inevitable that other clubs would be coveting Saints’ players.
But without knowing definitely that Pochettino would still be the manager, the stars were understandably considering their own futures.
In that little bit of breathing space came the chance for the vultures to start circling.
Once that process begins, it’s like trying to hold back the tides.
So it was the club’s fault, then, for not getting Pochettino to stay?
They were in a difficult position after Nicola Cortese left.
Former Saints chairman Nicola Cortese
There was a feeling of instability with that change at the top taking place mid season and they could not afford to lose Pochettino.
As such, maybe they played along with him a little too much.
Certainly looking back now, Les Reed’s statement a few weeks before the end of the season that he was comfortable with the situation with Pochettino makes it look like Saints may have been too happy to go along with things for fearing of upsetting their manager when they could have been firmer.
Nobody has a crystal ball, but you would hope things might not have unravelled quite so quickly in terms of players wanting to leave if there was a committed manager in place.
Would this not have happened had Cortese stayed?
Anybody who claims to know for sure must be able to see into the future, because no one can be certain.
Pochettino is a career manager. That is his job, and if a bigger club came in for him the chances are he would have gone anyway.
And when it comes to the players, if they want to go it’s almost impossible to hold onto them when big clubs are interested.
We even saw that with Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain, who Cortese had to sell back in the summer of 2011.
Surely, though, Saints don’t need to sell all these players?
It has been a real snowball effect that has almost turned into an avalanche.
Rickie Lambert was the first to go and, unwittingly, Saints set a precedent that others have used to also force through their moves.
Ex-Saints striker Rickie Lambert
Though Lambert has continued to be held up as a hero and nobody begrudged him a ‘dream’ move to Liverpool, what do you then say to other players when big clubs come in and they want their ‘dream’ move?
Especially when you have accepted just £4m for one of your most important players.
They should have held onto Lambert then?
Possibly, with hindsight, maybe they should have, though they insist this was an exceptional case and that all the deals have been dealt with on an individual basis.
It certainly seem to open the floodgates, though, and Saints haven’t been able to close them since.
They have taken a stance that you cannot keep players that aren’t happy and don’t want to play for the club.
So now any player that wants to go uses that excuse.
Of course, other clubs have been alerted to this and are trying to take advantage to pick over the Saints carcass.
Saints say they wouldn’t have sold had premium prices not been met, but they have been.
Is it reasonable to keep players who want to leave?
This is an interesting discussion point.
The old school view would be very much that, yes, it is.
You cannot imagine Lawrie McMenemy, Alex Ferguson or Brian Clough standing for any of that from their players – especially the youngsters.
They were all happy enough to sign lucrative long term contracts not that long beforehand.
Certainly those managers would have shown their agents the door and told the player to get on with it or they would be in the reserves and nobody would ever want to sign them then.
People in the game now will tell you, with player power the way it is and clubs run as businesses, that is just not how it works.
With clubs having to act to balance books in such a cash rich industry, you cannot have a huge asset rotting away in the reserves.
Well, take Dejan Lovren as an example.
He made it quite clear that he no longer wished to play for Saints because Liverpool wanted him and he wanted to go there.
Dejan Lovren was the third player to move from Saints to Liverpool this summer
Saints could have pointed out that he only joined the club the year before and signed a long term deal and insisted he honoured that contract.
But if the player is adamant, you are taking a big risk.
You could try and get him back on board, but if he decides not to try or just sit in the reserves and pick up a huge salary then there is little you can do about it.
In that instance, his value decreases massively while you still pay him a fortune.
Or the alternative option is that you take £20m for him now and have that sum of cash in your business to spend as you see fit.
In all these cases in modern day football, the clubs end up selling.
Is that what has happened at Saints?
In most of these cases, yes it is.
The players have made it clear they see their futures elsewhere and so Saints have taken that decision to sell if they could get good fees.
Oddly enough, given the stick he got, Dejan Lovren was the only one to actually do it publicly and put in a written transfer request, thus formally waving his rights to certain payments from Saints upon completion of his move.
Who has been overseeing all this?
It’s largely been down to Les Reed in his role as executive director.
What about Ronald Koeman?
Well he has claimed that he knew all of this before he agreed to take the job, though surely even he might not have reckoned quite so many players would have gone.
Shouldn’t Saints have drawn a line under the sales somewhere?
That is ultimately the problem they have had, and why things look so bad.
It hasn’t been handled in the best way.
Despite promises of open communication, Saints have been quite insular in their dealings.
They have struggled to get their message across and explain things, as we are attempting to do here.
Maybe, with hindsight, they regret setting the precedent that they did, but once they had done that it was hard to backtrack from it.
But surely it’s one thing with senior players, but Calum Chambers?
Interesting debate on that one.
In a pure business sense, it was a great deal – possibly £16m for a player that cost you nothing and who wants to leave.
Calum Chambers in action against Chelsea
It’s like Lovren; in a business sense, it was an £11.5m profit in a year.
Trouble is, business sense doesn’t win football matches.
And when it comes to Chambers, it didn’t sound good that when a 19-year-old with four years left on his contract and who has barely played 20 times for the first team demands to leave you just feel you have to agree.
You mentioned the word business a lot there. Is that really what is motivating these sales?
The honest answer to that is we don’t know, or at least can’t be sure.
Saints have said on a couple of occasions that all monies raised from these sales will be reinvested in the team.
Though things seem bleak at the moment we can only trust them and hold them to that statement.
If that is the case then Saints will be able to say it was a sporting decision, that they have got rid of a load of players who didn’t want to be there, no matter how talented they were, and replaced them with a new era of players who want to represent the club.
But will all the money be reinvested, taken out of the club or used elsewhere?
Only time will tell for sure.
We have these statements from the club and we have to give them the time to prove they are correct.
There is no point leaping up and down about it until we know for sure.
What we do know, though, is that when the accounts came out it was obvious that there were a lot of things that needed paying for.
The training ground had gone up from £15m to £30m.
There was a lot of deferred transfer debt for the signings of the previous two summers still owing, and even another loan from overseas.
Chairman Ralph Krueger has said the money will go on the team and denied all this talk about whether Katharina Liebherr will want any of her family’s substantial investment back.
Saints Chairman Ralph Krueger and owner Katharina Liebherr
Again, you can only repeat that Saints have publicly said the money will be reinvested on new players.
We simply have to allow them the chance to be as good as their word.
What about getting players in? Why is it taking so long?
It does seem that Saints are able to sell in days but buy in weeks, that is true.
All these deals are subject to complex negotiations, and we are not party to everything that is happening, but you cannot argue with the facts that five players have been sold and just two recruited.
Are we going to be able to get in enough players?
Well, that is not really optional.
Saints simply have to do that to give themselves a fighting chance of having a good season.
What does this say about the state of English football and the club?
Well, that is unfortunately not very palatable.
It says that the big clubs with the money and the power will always be able to take any players they want from other sides below them.
It was ever thus really.
In the same way nobody raised an eyebrow when Rickie Lambert wanted to move from one League One club to another to join Saints from Bristol Rovers, nobody else thinks it’s unusual for Luke Shaw to want to go from Saints to Manchester Untied.
The pecking order of things is in place and entrenched.
The Premier League riches have only solidified that.
Saints did as well as was possible for a club of their size last season.
Unfortunately, the reality of modern day football is what you have seen over the last 12 months at St Mary’s.
It ain’t all pretty.
Surely there must be some positives in amongst all this?
Yes, and it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that all is not lost yet.
It is sad that such a wonderful side has been dismantled, but Saints have got themselves a terrific new manager in Koeman, and are going to play an exciting brand of football next season.
New Saints manager Ronald Koeman
It is inevitably going to be a new side packed full of fresh faces and new talent to enjoy.
It doesn’t look great right now, but signings will come in, hopefully quickly, and when half a dozen new players are on the team photo then things will look brighter.
It has been a summer of madness, but maybe there will still be a good season to come after it.
All we can say for sure is that now is not the time to judge.
That comes when we see the team on the first day of the season and at the end of the summer transfer window.
At that point, we can fairly assess exactly what has taken place.