Having signed for Southampton in January 2003, Danny Higginbotham spent three and a half years with the club, making 106 appearances.
In a 16-year professional career, the centre-back also had spells at the likes of Derby County, Sunderland and Stoke City.
Now a respected pundit for Sky Sports, Higginbotham gave us the lowdown on the Saints ahead of their clash with Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday…
You look at the players they have got and, for me, they shouldn’t have been struggling last season. They have got some very good players that should make sure they don’t repeat that this time around. You look at the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Nathan Redmond, Charlie Austin, Cedric Soares at right-back, Oriol Romeu - who I really like - and Alex McCarthy in goal. Add the likes of Stuart Armstrong, Danny Ings, Jannik Vestergaard and the other signings who have come in and it’s a strong group.
People might look at the last stages of his time at Stoke but Hughes led them to three ninth-place finishes in a row. That is no mean feat at all. Then he has gone into Southampton, who were in really, really choppy waters, and got them safe. He has built on that, made some good signings and they will be hoping they aren’t in that situation again.
Like he did at times last season, Hughes looks to be playing with three at the back. That served them well when they were battling against the drop at the end of the last campaign and it is a formation that tries to give you solidity but also allows players to get forward as well.
Giant at the back
Jannik Vestergaard has got big shoes to fill but then again, he is 6’ 7” so I think he’ll be alright! He’s a Danish international that they have signed from German side Monchengladbach and with the three at the back we saw against Burnley on the opening day, there is going to be a big onus on him.
When you look at him and Austin, you think that could be a fantastic partnership. They played together at Burnley, of course. It just depends on how Hughes wants to build his team. But for me, Austin and Ings can bring the best out in each other. Ings will have a point to prove after the injuries at Liverpool. But now he is at Southampton – the club he supports – and this move could work really well for him. And if you can keep Austin fit then he is a very good goalscorer, especially if you are playing with wing-backs who are getting crosses into the box. There aren’t many that are better than him in that situation.