Cast back to December of last year. Southampton lay 12th in the Premier League and had won just once in their previous six matches.
There were criticisms that because they continued to allow key players to leave, their progress would be halted.
No way could they continue to battle with the so-called big boys of the Premier League because those clubs were the ones that were pinching the Saints top stars.
It even led some to think that the success in the previous season, that saw the Saints record a then record points tally, was just a one season wonder.
Manager Ronald Koeman was growing frustrated with injuries, and more so the fact that his side were not taking their chances in front of goal.
Return to the present day, and the Saints have finished the 2015/16 Premier League season in a record sixth position having, for the second season running, achieved a record points total of 63.
That turnaround in form only heightens the achievement made by Koeman and his players as they continue to progress and look forward to entering the group stage of the Europa League for the first time next season.
Who have the key men been for the Saints?
Fraser Forster- The Saints upturn in form following their Christmas slump was partly due to their change of goalkeeper as their number one returned from long term injury. The former Celtic keeper was instrumental in some key results for his side as they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford and took a goalless draw away from the Emirates stadium against Arsenal.
Virgil Van Dijk- The Dutchman signed for the Saints ahead of the campaign and has recently penned a new six-year deal at the club. The central defender has created a strong partnership with captain Jose Fonte and has impressed with his expansive style of play as well his threat at the other end of the field.
Sadio Mane- The Saints top goal scorer this season with 14 goals is one of Koeman’s most dangerous attacking players. The Senegalese winger has been widely tipped to be the next out of the St Mary’s exit door, but with European football coming to the club next season he will be urged to remain.
Key matches this season
Southampton 2-0 Watford Wednesday 13th January 2016
This match came at a time where the club were struggling for consistent form. The win was only the Saints second win in nine matches and it set the pattern for a formidable run for Koeman’s men. Shane Long and Dusan Tadic notched the goals for the home side.
Southampton 3-2 Liverpool Sunday 20th March 2016
As the Saints kept up their hopes of a European spot this match was a classic encounter that saw the reds return from two goals down against a Liverpool side, who had earlier in the season beaten Southampton 6-1 in the League Cup. After early away goals from Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, it looked as if Saints fans were in for a tough afternoon. But credit to Koeman’s side’s spirit and quality they fought back with two goals from Mane and a smart finish from Graziano Pelle.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Southampton Sunday 8th May 2016
As the race for Europe ran to the wire the Saints put in a remarkable performance against a wounded and dangerous Tottenham side, who were unfortunate not to lift the title this season. A difficult place to go on the best of days the Saints put in a resilient and professional performance as midfielder Steven Davis popped up with two rare goals to take a much needed three points away from White Hart Lane.
Manager Ronald Koeman is currently in negotiations over extending his stay with the club which will encourage Saints fans who will be desperate for him to stay.
Speculation over the Dutchman’s future has lingered throughout the season and his current deal is set to expire at the end of the next campaign.
Despite the uncertainty Executive Director of Football at the club Les Reed has revealed that negotiations are going “very positively” as they look to thrash out a new deal, which will certainly include improved terms.
One thing for certain is that if the club are keen to progress then Koeman will have to remain in charge as he looks to continue his excellent work.