In the last few weeks Southampton have endured a depressing slide down the Premier League table, going from Champions League contenders in early November to Europa League hopefuls ahead of the Christmas period.
After five games without a win in the league, including four straight defeats, Tuesday’s Capital One Cup quarter-final against Sheffield United should have provided a welcome relief. But it ended in further heartbreak for the Saints fans.
Bramall Lane was never going to be an easy place to go but Ronald Koeman had every right to expect a reaction from his team following their 1-0 defeat at Burnley last weekend.
As it was, the reaction was not forthcoming and, despite naming a strong side including Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne and the returning Morgan Schneiderlin, Marc McNulty’s second-half strike was enough to give the Blades a 1-0 win.
In the past the League Cup may have been an unwelcome distraction for those at the top end of the Premier League, but without a major trophy win since the FA Cup in 1976, Southampton were going all out for the win this year and to lose at this stage could be a hammer blow for confidence.
Desperate for a Win
With this latest defeat, the Saints blip is on the verge of becoming a full-blown crisis. Pundits and experts, like those at blue sq, may not have tipped Southampton to make the Champions League at the start of the season but, after losing just once in ten Premier League games before their slide, they were beginning to look like they could mount a challenge.
Unless Southampton can turn their form around before Christmas, they could find themselves battling for a mid-table position come May. The Saints’ next game is against Everton on Saturday and they will be desperate for a win against Roberto Martinez’s men.