Saints chair: 'This is a summer of pain'
Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger believes their "summer of pain" is unlikely to be repeated thanks to the club's complete restructuring.
Saints came into the summer on the back of their best ever Premier League season, having finished eighth with a points haul of 56.
It had looked like the club were set for greater heights, but were hit instead by a raft of exits, as Mauricio Pochettino and his staff were followed out of St Mary's by Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers.
That exodus has seen the term "meltdown" bandied around and led some fans to enquire about season-tickets refunds -- concerns Krueger understands but is keen to allay.
"I don't ever want to sit here and say we're going to be the best, but I want to know that we're as well run as anybody else," the Saints chairman told Press Association Sport. "That's what we're working towards here.
"If we do that here, then the people of Southampton and the fans of the Saints will see an excellent level Premier League football for a long time.
"That is the only way you will have a healthy club in Southampton, if you can create that environment -- otherwise, it is a fly-by-night situation.
"You might get one good year, you might be there. You don't want to be a yo-yo team, we want to be a stable organisation.
"This is a summer of pain. It is a summer of pain on many, many different levels. It has been six months of pain because so much change has gone on and people always have fear in change.
"That's why we have to have patience with the team now because it is not going to come overnight. But everything we're doing is driven by the fact that we want to create a really honest, healthy structure and we want to be as well run as anybody."
Such comments could be seen construed as a jibe at Nicola Cortese, the executive chairman who left Saints in January, but Krueger was keen to focus on making the club a stable, well-run organisation.
"There was no executive board here," he said. "At this club, it cannot be that if one person gets hit by a bus -- that would be really tragic -- the club doesn't keep moving forwards.
"Whatever happened before is less relevant than what I found. The other thing that is really important is that everybody who is going out to execute is executing on the same page and in the same level.
"We've done that with our reworking. We've completely redefined, from within, the Southampton way, completely redefined the values and how we want to get to where we want to get and everybody is involved now."
Free to play: ESPN FC Premier League fantasy
- Q&A: Why you need to reselect your fantasy squad
- Sign up for our new game and challenge your friends
- How to play the game -- fantasy rules in full
- Transfers: Check out the latest Premier League moves
- Fantasy Forum: Discuss your team and tactics
Krueger, appointed chairman in March, knows it will take a while for fans to trust him -- "I don't think you can make a friendship overnight," he said -- but hopes fans will be patient.
The former ice hockey coach pointed to the situation the club found themselves in five years ago, when Saints started the season rooted to the bottom of League One with minus 10 points after being saved by Markus Liebherr. His passing a year later saw daughter Katharina take the reins and Krueger laughed off talk that the summer exodus was merely asset-stripping before selling up.
"We have been aggressively pursued," he said. "Every player has gone to an absolutely top club and we've received prices that were above our expectations, so [executive director] Les Reed has done an outstanding job thus far in the process for me.
"I represent the ownership and Katharina Liebherr has in no way, shape or form, done anything other than show fact this club needs to take care of itself now.
"She has invested so heavily to make what we have here today possible and I believe a healthy model in the league is when you can exist on your own and whenever we sell [players], can be reinvested in the club.
"Wherever we use that reinvestment in the football, whether it is wages or transfers or whatever combination, that is the mandate we have from the ownership. That is all I can tell you. That is what we're working on here."