It was a very difficult Premier League season for Southampton. Indecision at board level, three managerial changes and the inability of new signings to hit the ground running meant that they ended their 10 year stay in the Premier League.
They finished at the bottom of the Premier League table and now face a season in the tough Championship division, where they will be hoping to bounce back into the Premier League next season.
The Saints squad has two contracted Nigerians who they employ in Joe Aribo and Paul Onuachu. Both players, part of the Nigeria Super Eagles squad with Napoli hitman Victor Osimhen, were signed last season, in the summer and winter transfer windows, respectively. They spent a combined fee of €25 million to bring both Super Eagles attackers to the team, but their investment did not work out the way they needed it to.
Both players struggled for gametime last season and ended their season playing a combined 38 appearances for the Saints, with two goals scored between them (Aribo scored both goals). With Southampton’s Journey through the championship about to begin, they have appointed a new manager for the upcoming 2023/2024 season. Russell Martin has been given the task of leading his team back to the Premier League next season and he will be the one to manage both Aribo And Onuachu next season.
We are delighted to announce Russell Martin as our new Men’s First Team Manager 😇
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) June 21, 2023
The 37-year-old left Swansea City to join the Saints on a three year contract that runs until the end of the 2025/2026 season. Apart from his Swansea job, he also managed MK Dons where he was first hailed for his managerial nous and seen as a prospect in football management.
Russell Martin has a reputation of being an attacking coach who wants his teams to play on the front foot and play free flowing football. He likes his team to play a high pressing style which suffocates the opposition and allows his team to force high turnovers for transition opportunities closer to goal. This style of play will be familiar among Saints fans as a lot of their 10 year stay in the Premier League saw their teams adopt that style.
Super Eagles players who've worked with Russell Martin
It will be the first time Russell Martin works with Super Eagles international players, but the Scotsman has a history of working with players of Nigerian descent in the past. Matthew Sorinola is a 22-year-old defender who played 76 games under him at Milton Keynes Dons as well as at Swansea City.
The second Nigerian player he has played with was David Kasumu, who featured in 47 matches under Martin during his time at MK Dons. This is the most number of appearances that the 23-year-old midfielder has made under any coach since turning professional.
While these are good players, they will be nowhere near the level of Onuachu and Aribo in terms of quality and experience. Should Russell Martin decide to keep them, he will have two players at his disposal who are good enough to be the cornerstones of the new Southampton.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago