Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger insists it would have been an “insane risk” for Southampton to keep a core of disgruntled players and remains steadfast in his determination to retain Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez.
In just a matter of a few months, Saints have gone from the envy of English football to the butt of jokes.
Soon after manager Mauricio Pochettino and his staff left for Tottenham, the sales at St Mary’s began as Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren departed for pastures new.
The exits swelled the coffers, but led to serious questions over the direction of Southampton and the ownership structure, resulting in the odds on their relegation dramatically shortening.
However, club chairman Krueger believes the exits will actually benefit Saints and highlighted their importance in allowing manager Ronald Koeman the chance to succeed.
“Contracts should be respected, first of all,” Krueger told Press Association Sport. “You sign contracts and both sides need to respect contracts. I am a person who still believes a handshake should be enough.
“There was a situation when there was so much change with the manager leaving and you theoretically ended up with a dressing room with half of your starters not really committed to being there.
“That is an insane risk for any club and especially a club which was already quite thin last year.
“Of actual centrepieces of the club, a few have gone. Not all five were centrepieces or irreplaceable, but you know there were a couple.
“For me, if in the end a few players are disgruntled or maybe not sure about it, you can swallow that up. You can handle that, but you can’t have half the team. You can’t have a brand new manager (dealing with that).
“Whether that happened out of the past or whether it happened because of the success of the Saints last year or whether it happened because players were suddenly in the national team, I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter.
“But something happened and I don’t need to do research on it. The fact was it was there and we needed to deal with it professionally, be in control of every deal.
“In the end, that’s something we couldn’t do to Ronald, to have a dressing room like that.”
Krueger now wants to focus on those coming in, with Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Ryan Bertrand set to be followed into the club on Wednesday by Inter Milan’s Saphir Taider.
Speculation, though, continues over whether Schneiderlin and Rodriguez could be next to leave as they continue to attract strong interest from, amongst others, Tottenham.
Last week Krueger insisted in a series of interviews that the pair were not for sale and continued that stance on Tuesday, despite Schneiderlin’s remarkable Tweet in which he declared his Southampton career had been “destroyed”.
“We’re not the kind of club that right off the bat is going to overreact,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is there is a strategy in place and that we clearly have Morgan and Jay in the centre, as a core players of building this squad going forwards. That is our strategy and we’re going to stick with it. We are now on a building and not in a reducing phase.
“Very clearly we don’t communicate with our players in the public, so he was clearly informed of the fact we were not going to sell him. Immediately after that I communicated with the media about that and that is how we did it. Then he reacted (on Twitter).
“I think whoever reacts in certain ways, there is passion involved here and circumstances.”
Asked if Schneiderlin had been reprimanded for his Twitter post, Krueger said: “No, he wasn’t. I think that there’s situations that evolve where people can be emotional.
“You shouldn’t, as a club, take everything personally and we didn’t take that personally.”
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