Adrian Clarke looks at where clubs can improve for the 2018/19 season.
If Southampton start the season as they ended the last, they can be much-improved in 2018/19.
Saints secured their Premier League status for the upcoming campaign with eight points from four matches prior to the final day.
But although he masterminded their escape from relegation Hughes has a number of issues to address in his first pre-season in charge.
In short, they made too many mistakes at the back, lacked creativity in midfield and were wasteful in front of goal.
From back to front the team needs to get better if they are to return to the top half of the table, where they had finished for the past four seasons in a row.
Southampton’s home form has been a concern for two consecutive seasons.
In 2015/16 when Saints finished sixth, they got 36 of their 63 points at St Mary’s Stadium and scored 39 goals.
That dipped to 24 points and only 17 goals the following campaign under Claude Puel.
During 2017/18 their record worsened.
While their home goal tally rose to 20 they collected only 19 points, the second-lowest home return behind relegated West Bromwich Albion.
It is down to a combination of factors but a lack of tempo and cutting edge is perhaps the main issue.
Southampton have been neat and tidy in their play between both penalty boxes but creating and converting chances proved problematic. Too many of their passes were sideways and ineffective.
Their 11 per cent chance conversion rate was the second-lowest in the Premier League last season.
Only two PL teams took more passes than Southampton to score at home. On average they made 454 passes for each goal at St Mary’s Stadium.
|Most passes/shot||Most passes/goal|
Saints need to improve how they create and finish their chances.
In comparison, the regular Premier League starters with the best conversion rates were Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (41 per cent), Huddersfield Town's Laurent Depoitre (32 per cent) and Cenk Tosun of Everton (31 per cent).
They need help from players who offer speed, guile, and clinical finishing.
By signing the two attacking midfielders this summer, Hughes has acquired positive players with drive and end product.
Armstrong suffered with injuries during 2017/18, but he showed what he is capable of with 17 goals for Celtic in the previous campaign.
Both players will aid Saints creatively and make the team a more dangerous goal threat.
Another issue that affected Southampton last term was individual errors.
Eight different players were guilty of gifting at least one goal to opposition sides.
In 2016/17 Saints had been solid in this department, making only three individual slips that led to goals.
|Errors leading to goals||3||13|
|Players who made errors leading to goals||2||8|
Hughes will look to improve all of the above ahead of his first full campaign as manager.
But if they can build up early momentum by performing with extra pace and taking the chances that fall their way, this could be a catalyst for happier times at St Mary's Stadium.
Part 1: Finishing touch can lift Crystal Palace
Part 2: Can Brighton deliver at set-pieces?
Part 3: Breaking down opponents the next step for Burnley
Part 4: Pogba and Sanchez key to United reaching top gear
Part 5: Huddersfield must aim high to progress
Part 6: Injection of pace could boost Watford's away form
Part 7: Ki to get Newcastle back in control
Part 8: Improving wing play the priority for Spurs
Part 10: Improvement in the air can lift Liverpool