The stats and record-lows behind Southampton's relegation

Southampton's players trudge off in front of a sparse St Mary's after getting relegated from the Premier League against Fulham
Southampton's players trudge off in front of a sparse St Mary's after getting relegated from the Premier League against Fulham / Charlie Crowhurst/GettyImages

Southampton's season was 12 minutes old when the campaign began to ebb towards failure.

After taking the lead through James Ward-Prowse on the opening weekend against Tottenham, Southampton slumped to a 4-1 loss. Ralph Hasenhuttl was still at the helm but already cut a defeatist figure, sighing: "It felt a little bit like the opponent switched into the next gear and we cannot follow."

Spurs were not alone in leaving Southampton in their wake. The Saints had their first Premier League relegation since 2005 confirmed with two games to spare, cut six points adrift of anyone else in the division.

Here are the damning figures behind a relegation that the first of three Southampton managers this season saw coming at the start of August.

Zero Premier League experience

Romeo Lavia, Carlos Alcaraz
Armel Bella-Kotchap (left), Romeo Lavia (centre) and Carlos Alcaraz all arrived for more than £30m combined but with no Premier League experience / Matt McNulty/GettyImages

Southampton’s new ownership forked out £132m on transfer fees across their first full season since the takeover - marginally less than defending champions Manchester City coughed up and more than Liverpool could afford.

The 14 permanent additions made by the transfer committee boasted exactly zero minutes of Premier League football between them upon arrival.

Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles was the only addition that had ever featured in England’s top flight and even he had gone ten months without a Premier League outing. On numerous occasions, the lack of top-flight savvy was painfully apparent, especially at the sharp end of the pitch.

Toothless in attack

James Ward-Prowse
James Ward-Prowse is Southampton's captain, top scorer and leading assist provider / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

By the winter break, Southampton had already sacked Hasenhuttl and sat second-bottom. The Saints squad amassed just 270 World Cup minutes between them - the fewest of any team in the division - but their club fortunes only got worse after returning from Qatar.

Ward-Prowse was a notable absentee from Gareth Southgate's England and responded by scoring five of Southampton’s first six Premier League goals after the conclusion of the tournament. It was March before the team could boast as many as three goalscorers post-Christmas.

Relying upon one prolific player isn’t always catastrophic but as accomplished as Ward-Prowse may be, he is hardly a steady supply of goals.

The Saints have scored the fewest open-play goals in the Premier League this season, boasting just 14 from 36 league games. Both Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have scored more individually.

Southampton have recorded the highest shooting distance in the Premier League, averaging shots from more than 18 yards out - not an optimum route to success even if the country’s best free-kick taker is on your roster. No team has been more reliant upon set pieces this season, with more than a third of Southampton’s few goals coming from dead balls invariably delivered by Ward-Prowse.

Hired the second-worst manager in Premier League history

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones lasted less than 100 days as Southampton manager / Robin Jones/GettyImages

It has not been uncommon for the creativity of the St Mary’s crowd to outshine the shambles taking place on the pitch in front of them.

In February, at the end of Nathan Jones’ brief but bombastic reign, an enterprising duo rocked up to the ground with a giant P45, equipped with an envelope, for Southampton’s manager. The form had even been filled out, with the club address and Jones’ name inserted along with a fitting settlement offer: “Too much”.

Among permanent Premier League managers in the history of the competition, only Frank de Boer - who suffered defeat in all four games at the helm of Crystal Palace in 2017 - has lost a higher proportion of matches than Jones.

Between memorable bursts of verbal diarrhoea, Jones lost seven of the eight matches he oversaw (88%), earning a single win against Frank Lampard’s Everton thanks to a brace from - you guessed it - Ward-Prowse.

Hellish St Mary’s record

Rishi Sunak
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was in the crowd to see his side Southampton get relegated at home / Steve Bardens/GettyImages

Southampton’s unbroken 11-year stay in the Premier League has been pockmarked by some particularly damaging displays at home. However, it wasn’t until May 2023 that a loss at St Mary’s eventually confirmed the club’s relegation.

Southampton’s suffering support have seen their side win just ten Premier League points at home all season - comfortably the club’s most pitiful top-flight tally since their first promotion in 1966.

No set of Southampton fans have ever previously been subjected to more than ten home defeats in a single top-flight season. The relegation-confirming loss to Fulham was the club’s 12th of the campaign.

Room to tumble further

Southampton's struggles have not been limited to home turf. The Saints have lost just as many league matches on the road this season, setting a club-record 24 top-flight defeats in a single campaign.

Incidentally, on the only two previous occasions when Southampton have lost as many as 23 league games (1971 and 1994), they somehow managed to avoid relegation.

This iteration of the club's fate has already been decided - and was in the works as long ago as August according to Hasenhuttl. However, with two more matches of the season remaining, Southampton still have time to add to their bulging list of unwanted records.


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