Southampton’s decision to embrace the UEFA Europa League has been a heartening one, according to Premier League Productions reporter Paul Belverstone.
Speaking in the Press Box feature on Southampton’s official YouTube channel, Belverstone said there is a lot for the club to look forward to in the new season, with a place in the group stages of the competition already assured, building on a spot in the qualifying rounds last term.
“I love the fact the club, quite rightly, have embraced it – ‘this is our next step, we want to embrace the Europa League, we want to enjoy it,’ whereas other clubs who have got in it for the first time and only time have said 'we can't risk our proper players, we'll play the kids,'” he said.
BBC Radio Solent sports editor Adam Blackmore, who was also part of the roundtable discussion, added his belief that Saints can do well in the Europa League this term.
“As far as the competition goes, why not have a chance? I think it will be fantastic," he said. "I think it's really exciting. I look at Sevilla and how they've changed their standing in the last two or three seasons. They know they're never going to win La Liga, but look at the way they've attacked that competition – to win it three years in a row was remarkable.
“Can Southampton aim to do something like Sevilla have done? Why not. Last year's draw if they'd made it [through the qualifying rounds] would have been brilliant ¬ it would have been Legia Warsaw, Napoli and Brugge. That's what you want. They would have been all brilliant trips.”
Adam Leitch, chief sports writer at the Southern Daily Echo, said of the club’s experience in the qualifying stages last season: “It was brilliant, it was great, it was something so different.
“For the football club, it's one of those things that we talk about as a sign of progression. It is a marker along the way to have qualified for the Europa League group stages now, having gone into the qualifying stages the year before.
“That is a clear sign of progress and I couldn't agree more heartily that I'd love to see Southampton have a really good cup run.”