It’s promotion or bust for Southampton this season

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The start of the season is the time that many managers will claim that they don’t have a points target and a great number of supporters start thinking about how they are going to gauge the success of their team during the season.

Because of this lack of public presentation it’s difficult to work out what specific targets previous Southampton managers/chairmen have set themselves, although the suspicion would be that during the late 90’s and early 00’s it was to amass enough Premier League points to finish 17th.

This plan went badly wrong in 2004-05 when, as we all know, 17th wasn’t achieved and the club ended up in the Championship. How much relegation then contributed to the next four horrible years no one will ever know for certain but it must have been responsible for an element of it.

Everyone knows how important promotion from League 1 is for Southampton this season so how do they work out what finishing place to target. The obvious answer is to aim for first place come May 7th but there is no room for over achieving there.

If you aim for the play-offs the risk is that you fail and miss out altogether. Aiming for second place gives you both a chance to over achieve and retains the safety net of the play-offs.

The last seven years has seen teams promoted from second place in League One to the Championship with anything from a low of 79 points to a high of 89; so targeting a total points haul of 90 is likely to achieve the main goal (and would have won the league in two of the last seven years).

With the total points available during the season being 138, aiming for 90 means an average of just over a point a game can be dropped and promotion still achieved. By breaking the season’s matches down into blocks of six, this means that out of each of those six only four need to be outright wins.

Saints' first six league matches this season see them entertain Plymouth, Leyton Orient and Rochdale at St Mary's whilst visiting MK Dons, Bristol Rovers and Swindon. To ensure that they don’t fall behind early on they need to win a minimum of four of these.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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