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It was a rather forgettable season for Southampton.

With some good performances and a reasonably solid 8th placed finish, but no real memorable achievements.

Southampton 2016-17 report card: Saints solid but unremarkableWhat went right?

Despite inheriting a squad in need of rebuilding, Claude Puel managed to form a relatively strong team with enough depth to cover a string of injuries. Their European campaign was disappointing, but ultimately it did not have a major negative effect on their domestic league performance as it had the season before, which was a step forward for the club.

In a year where the top seven broke well away from the rest of the pack, Southampton showed themselves as the best of the rest, rising to the top of the mid-table.

What went wrong?

Puel’s rotation policy was the major criticism of the Frenchman’s first season in charge with fans – and allegedly players alike – feeling that it failed to give the team any momentum or consistency.

Goals were a rare commodity for Saints, with only the bottom five managing smaller tallies. The top goalscorer for the club across all competitions was Charlie Austin with nine, despite only managing 21 appearances due to injury.

Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez both had disappointing seasons in front of goal, while Nathan Redmond unexpectedly spent time up front early despite being mainly recognised as a winger. The lack of goals cost Southampton, with many results going against the team due to their inability to impact on the scoresheet.

Best man

It was Oriol Romeu who seemed the most consistent performer in the Saints team across the season, with the Spaniard indeed earning the Southampton Player of the Season award. Screening in front of the back four and limiting space for opposition play makers, the defensive midfielder consistently won important battles on the pitch.

In a season were the spotlight was shone on N’Golo Kante, Romeu established himself as one of the league’s best in the position.

Off-season moves

Saints have announced the release of four players with Cuco Martina, Lloyd Isgrove and Harley Willard departing, while Martin Caceres’ short-term deal has concluded. Martina was the only first-team regular – though was always second choice to Cedric Soares – while Isgrove and Caceres had only made a handful of appearances.

As always the South Coast team are facing a raid from Premier League rivals with Virgil van Dijk the main target, though Puel and chairman Ralph Krueger both seem confident of retaining the Dutch star.

The club is yet to announce any additions for 2017-18, but with the window not opening for several weeks this is nothing surprising. Grade: C+

An unspectacular season ended positively for the Saints, being able to hold on to eighth spot on the table despite a loss on the final day at home to Stoke City. After three consecutive record high finishes, fans may still be disappointed with Puel’s first season in charge, but it was far from a disaster.

The year saw Southampton slip a few spots in the standings and endure another unsuccessful European adventure but regardless, 2016-17 is sure to soon fade in the memory of supporters.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Jackson Delmenico, Twitter: @JayLukeDee
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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