Southampton have been dealt an encouraging start to the new season with the release of the Premier League fixtures, according to three journalists who cover the club.
Adam Leitch, of the Southern Daily Echo, joined BBC Radio Solent’s Adam Blackmore and Paul Belverstone, of Premier League Productions, to discuss a range of issues in our special Press Box feature on youtube.com/southamptonfc.
One of those was the fixtures, which have pitted Saints against Watford, at St Mary’s, on the opening day, while also giving them a home match to conclude the season, against Stoke City.
There is a tough start away from home, with their first five matches on the road featuring sides from last season’s top seven, but Belverstone believes there is nothing to be daunted by.
“It’s a difficult couple of away games to start with, Manchester United and Arsenal,” he said. “I like the fact I don't think you could have picked a better Christmas period, with a short trip away to Bournemouth and two home games.
“There are a couple of clusters of difficult runs of games, but there always are going to be. I think it's been largely pretty kind.”
Leitch added: “If I was the new manager, I'd be pretty happy. I think the most significant thing for anybody, be a new manager or signing, is in the early days how you do at home. That's really important, because that's where most of your fans see you.
“Their early home run looks good and looks kind. Away from home it's difficult, those first five games. That is really hard, but I would rather that than the reverse and have all those teams at home and then have the easier away games.”
Blackmore believes there will potentially be a chance to catch some of those more established teams at the right time.
“The EUROs will have an impact on everybody,” he said. “The pre-season becomes trickier to manage I think, to get everyone to be at the same level at the same time at the start of the season, so a good home game first is absolutely huge.
“Those other clubs may have 15, 20 players coming back from the EUROs or Copa America and there is a possibility of catching them cold. Saints have shown in the last couple of years they don't need to be scared going to some of these away grounds. I think the start of the season is good. It gives the new man a chance.”