Mauricio Pochettino feels Saints have made encouraging strides towards the end of 2013, as he looks to push the side onto better things next year.
Despite ending the year with an unfortunate defeat to Everton, Southampton boast ten points more in the Barclays Premier League than they did at the end of 2012, as they sit in ninth place with 27 points – nine places above last year’s placing in 18th spot.
Pochettino feels such statistics epitomise his belief that the current squad – supplemented by promising youngsters coming through – halfway through the 2013/14 campaign is a much tougher proposition than last season.
“I think it’s a season that we’ve started off really well,” the 41-year-old told reporters. “We’ve gotten some really good results. We’ve been able to establish our style, our attacking philosophy and style of football. We’re achieving in the fact that we’re putting together a solid team.
“We still have a young side that’s competing in the Premier League and that’s not easy. I think so far the assessment is a good one; it’s a positive one.
“The project is one that is based around young players, young talent. It is very important to nurture this young talent, to get it going. During these last six months we’ve been going through different phases but I think, overall right now, the team is much stronger – especially when we’re all fully fit and we have all our players available.
“The last two months we’ve been plagued with a lot of injuries and illnesses and that has hindered our process a little bit, but we accept it. We accept it as part of the competition.
“The most important thing is that we’ve been able to maintain our philosophy, our attacking style of football – one in which the players are vital.”
Pochettino is desperate to once again have the luxury of a full-strength squad as New Year approaches, but maintains his vision for Saints won’t change, regardless of any squad alterations that may be forced upon him through injury.
The Argentine continued: “It is very clear that when we’re all fully fit and have all of the players available that that’s going to make us a much more solid group. Then we’ll see what potential we have for 2014.
“In the meantime, our mentality still remains the same – to win every game, to take it step by step. Then we’ll see our potential and how far we can go in 2014. Our aim is to always win every single game.”