After a number of poor and disappointing years at Southampton as we largely lost our Way and went from a side looking to crack the European places into a side battling against relegation, Academy graduate James Ward-Prowse is one of a few players who took a collective step back.
The 24-year-old’s early promise seemed to desert him as we rotated through Claude Puel, Manuel Pellegrino and then Mark Hughes, but in fairness to the lad, he was hardly the only one who seemed to suffer from us no longer playing on the front foot and instead going defensive and trying to permanently look for a panic button.
With the arrival of manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, JWP was one of the players who showed an almost overnight improvement and a number of fans will be expecting big things from him again next year, especially after a full pre-season with the Austrian.
Speaking recently to the Daily Echo he has lofty aims for the coming 2019/20 campaign and he’s looking for the side to continue last season’s improvements but hopefully, crack the top ten once again as a statement that we are back.
“To improve on last season as a club with its identity back and, for me, that’s a top-10 Premier League team. We have the players, the manager and the foundations to achieve that.”
Reflecting on the last few years, JWP felt it would actually serve us well in terms of being a mental rollercoaster.
“In football you have to be able to deal with the ups and downs. That’s what I’ve learned the most in the last couple of years. Football is not always going to be a good rise and you are not going to progress all the time, you are going to get things in the way that halt you. You have to enjoy the good moments, of course, but you also have to work through the tough times and maintain that belief in yourself and that is all I have done. It was a good couple of weeks away training and you come back feeling rejuvenated and inspired. The priority at the minute is ensuring I do that well and, if I do that to a good enough standard, then hopefully I should be making England squads on a more regular basis.”
In Ralph we trust!