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Shrewd Southampton

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Given that their net spending is consistently in the Premier League bottom five at less than £8m per season, Southampton's record of three successive top eight finishes makes them the top flight's biggest over achievers since their promotion from the Championship five years ago.   In 2009 they were in League One and administration.

A key to their success is that the staff have a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve and how to go about it.   The club seeks to fuse locally developed players with the best of the mid-market buys they can recruit from Europe into a team playing attractive football, thus ensuring good sell-on values in both categories.

Their location helps in the search for young players, given the lack of Premier League clubs in the south of England, other than in London.   They also made a shrewd decision in getting permission to open a satellite academy in Bath which gives them another catchment area,   Gareth Bale was developed at Bath.