Europe is the goal for Ambit: Adkins

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins is not only hopeful the newly-promoted team will avoid relegation but believes they will soon be challenging for Europe and ultimately the Premier League title.

The south coast side return to the top flight this season after a tumultuous seven-year absence, which saw them drop to the third tier and teeter dangerously close to liquidation.

Southampton were saved from extinction by the late Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr, who appointed Nicola Cortese to run the club as executive chairman.

Three seasons on and Saints are back in the Premier League and Adkins believes the club can now look forward an exciting period in its history.

“It’s a very positive future ahead,” he said.

“Nicola Cortese set the dream out and the vision to me (is) to be in the Premier League within five years.

“Since he has been here, they’ve done it in three with back-to-back promotions and we’re very, very ambitious.

“What we’ve got to do is make sure we’re ambitious in the Premier League and not just go there and think ‘oh, well if we can just get enough points to stay up then that will be successful’.

“We’ve got to drive on, strive to be the best and Europe is obviously the goal.

“We can draw inspiration from Norwich and Swansea last season in how they acquitted themselves.

“Southampton Football Club ultimately have got to be in the division to get into Europe and ultimately have the dream of winning the division.”

Such ambitions will surprise many and when asked whether Europe was a realistic target this season, Adkins said: “Well, that is the vision and the dream you have to strive to keep improving for.

“The training facilities have improved and are improving. The stadium has improved and will keep improving. The standard of the players has improved and will keep improving.

“The ambition is very, very high. You have to be realistic as well, but you’ve got to reach for the top.”

Southampton’s ambitions have seen them sign Burnley’s Jay Rodriguez for a club record STG6 million ($A9.20 million) this summer, before acquiring Rangers captain Steven Davis.

Saints had also looked close to completing a deal for Vitesse Arnhem defender Alexander Buttner until the Dutch club claimed a third party’s involvement saw negotiations stall.

Adkins, though, would not comment on Buttner or reports they are close to signing Crystal Palace’s Nathaniel Clyne.

“I think with everything at this time of season, there is mass speculation about everybody,” Adkins said.

“Many clubs are linked with many, many players. What we’ve endeavoured to do over the years at Southampton is to do everything quietly behind the scenes.

“If it gets in the media spotlight, a lot of times it probably doesn’t happen.

“Anything we do, we endeavour to do privately behind the scenes and that will continue.”

Adkins, though, was more open when asked about the positions that need upgrading.

“We’re going to improve the group,” he said. “It is fair to say we are going to need to bring another goalkeeper in as Bartosz (Bialkowski) did ever so well for us but didn’t play enough games.

“We’ve allowed him to move on to Notts County and I am sure he will have a great career up there. We will bring another one if not two goalkeepers into the fold.

“From a defensive point of view, as part of the development we have got we want to bring 50 per cent of the youngsters through the youth team structure.

“Aaron Martin, who has waited patiently on the bench, has gone to Crystal Palace for a half season or full season of games to aid his development.

“With Radhi Jaidi retiring and the uncertainty over Dan Seaborne coming back, we will be bringing another one if not two centre-halves into the football club to keep improving.”

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