Chelsea and Manchester City played out a thrilling 4-4 draw in the Premier League in early November. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last, but it’s still a scoreline that very rarely pops up.
Southampton Football Club are an English professional football club based in Southampton, Hampshire. They currently play in the Championship and were one of the Premier League's founding members.
The team's nickname is The Saints and they have spent a large majority of their recent history in the top flight since their first promotion in 1966. Their longest continuous period was between 1978 and 2005 - 27 years.
They play their home games at St. Mary's Stadium, which has a capacity of 32,384, having moved there in 2001.
Southampton's early history
Southampton's foray into Europe and FA Cup win
The Saints finished seventh in the First Division in 1968/69 and again in 1970/71. In 1969/70, they featured in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, losing in Round 3 to Newcastle United. In the 1971/72 UEFA Cup, they lost in the first round against Athletic Bilbao.
In 1974, Southampton suffered relegation, but they rebuilt in the Second Division with signings such as Peter Osgood, Jim Steele, Jim McCalliog and Peter Rodrigues.
In 1976, a goal from Bobby Stokes handed the Saints a 1-0 upset win over Manchester United in the FA Cup final, securing the trophy for the first and only time in their history. The following season, they featured in the Cup Winners' Cup and lost 3-2 on aggregate in the third round to Anderlecht.
In 1983/84, Southampton finished second in the First Division, three points behind winners Liverpool. They reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in the same season, but were beaten 1-0 by Everton at Highbury.
The late 1980s saw the rise of former academy players Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer.
Le Tissier would go on to become one of Southampton's most iconic players, while Shearer left the club in July 1992 and won the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers.
Southampton in the Premier League era
Saints also lost the 2003 FA Cup final 1-0 to Arsenal that season at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. James Beattie scored 24 goals for the Saints in all competitions in 2002/03, including 23 in the Premier League.
However, manager Gordon Strachan resigned in March 2004 and Saints fell into turmoil, which was not helped by the appointment of former Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp in December 2004.
Redknapp couldn't prevent relegation in 2005 and later that year, he would go on to manage Pompey again, much to the disgust of Saints supporters.
Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman enjoyed successful spells in charge of Southampton and turned them into a competitive Premier League outfit.
Under Ralph Hasenhuttl, Southampton bounced up and down the table, but were a relatively stable force in the top flight for over a decade.
Relegation back to the Championship
Eventually the relegation trapdoor grew larger as the seasons went on and the Hasenhuttl was sacked after almost four years in charge following a poor run of results in November 2022.
Hasenhuttl had survived two 9-0 defeats during his time in charge but Saints finally swung the axe following one win in their last nine matches.
Southampton turned to Hasenhuttl's assistant manager Ruben Selles, appointing him head coach until the end of the season after beating Chelsea in his first game in charge as caretaker boss.
But two wins and three draws from 15 games was not enough to keep Southampton away from relegation trouble and Fulham inflicted the killer blow on May 13, 2023.
Southampton's recognition and popularity in the early 1900's brought an Athletico Bilbao representative, who was also an Atletico Madrid player, over to the south coast, where he bought 50 Saints shirts and brought them back and shared them between his two teams.
The two clubs are only separated by a distance of 19 miles, with both cities being important ports. However, due to the two sides often being in different divisions, there have only been 71 encounters between them.
Southampton have won almost half of them, while they have regularly been the most successful of the two sides, featuring higher in the soccer pyramid. Southampton have won six of their seven cup encounters too.
Southampton went into administration in 2009 but ultimately recovered. Their current chairman is Gao Jisheng, who completed a multi-million pound takeover of the club in 2017.
He acquired an 80% stake for approximately £210m following talks with the club that lasted over a year. The investment was in a personal capacity rather than through his company Lander Sports.