Southampton supporters have been pretty despondent in recent times after seeing their side head into the season’s second international break with just one Premier League victory to their name.
Mark Hughes’ men went into their most recent league encounter against Chelsea at St Mary’s having lost each of their previous two league matches, going down 3-0 to Liverpool before losing 2-0 at Wolves. And the Saints have now lost three on the trot as goals from Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley, and Alvaro Morata sealed a routine 3-0 success for Maurizio Sarri’s Blues on October 7, thus leaving Southampton with just one win from their opening eight league games.
Thus, there have been many disappointed Saints fans up and down the country in recent times, although several are hoping that their team will improve as the season wears on having been reasonably active during the summer transfer window.
The South Coast outfit were generally praised for the business they conducted during the close season, yet there was one deal that went through back in 2016 that was relatively low-key and certainly wasn’t made much of a fuss of, namely that of bringing Alex McCarthy to the club from Crystal Palace for £4.23 million (as per Transfermarkt).
But such was the role the goalkeeper played in keeping the Saints in the top-flight last term, arguably a bigger role than anyone later in the season, it was the bargain £4.23 million deal that ultimately kept the South Coast outfit in the Premier League.
Ultimately, 28-year-old McCarthy began his senior career at Reading but had to wait to become first-choice at the Madejski Stadium, before going on to appear 75 times for the Royals to thus earn a move to Queens Park Rangers back in 2014.
Yet his struggles there saw him move across the capital to Palace, only to struggle for regular football there as well, before Claude Puel and Southampton eventually snapped him up for just £4.23 million back in 2016 – a transfer decision that has proven to be absolutely vital to Southampton.
And that’s because, while he didn’t start last season in between the sticks given Fraser Forster’s status as the club’s number one, McCarthy deputised for his compatriot against Manchester United on December 30, keeping a clean sheet which paved the way for starts in all Premier League games after that.
Significantly though, the 28-year-old earned his place between the sticks by pulling off several important saves for the Saints, not least late on in the season in victories over Bournemouth and Swansea City – victories that ultimately kept them in the division.
And while the likes of Dusan Tadic and Manolo Gabbiadini earned the plaudits for scoring the key goals, it was the consistently high-level displays of McCarthy and thus the saves he made to preserve those points that proved absolutely vital in their battle against the drop – arguably, he kept them in the Premier League.
And given he arrived on a £4.23 million deal little over two years ago to relatively minimal fuss, the Saints have certainly profited from their shrewdness that summer – it’s a bargain deal which has proven absolutely vital to the South Coast club.
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