It is widely acknowledged that Ronald Koeman worked minor miracles at Southampton in 2014/15.
Having inherited a side still reeling from the sales of key men such as Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers, the Dutchman found himself thrown in at the proverbial Premier League deep end.
It was sink or swim for Koeman and his troops, with reinforcements required on the field and belief in need of restoration off it.
To his immense credit, the former Barcelona and Ajax defender could not have fared much better on both counts as the Saints quickly bobbed back to the surface and set about heading for shore.
Throughout a memorable campaign there were critics quick to write the south coast outfit off, with many tipping them to drop away gradually after positioning themselves in the thick of a Champions League chase.
In the end, they were to come up short in that particular pursuit, but a seventh-place finish is not to be sniffed at.
Neither is a defensive record only bettered by champions Chelsea nor the emergence of Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand as two of the finest full-backs around, the continued progression of Morgan Schneiderlin or the immediate impact made by the likes of Fraser Forster, Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane.
There is, therefore, plenty to be proud about looking back on the season just gone, with former Saints goalkeeper Dave Beasant among those quick to hail the job overseen by Koeman in difficult circumstances.
Beasant – who was speaking on behalf of Vauxhall, the England team sponsor – told HITC Sport during a phone interview: “When you look at the players they lost and think they are going to be relegation material, they have had a fantastic season. You see Nigel Pearson at Leicester and the job he has done, when in everyone’s mind they were gone and down and out.
“There are a few clubs, but Ronald Koeman is up there with what he’s done at Southampton. The position he’s put the club in for the future as well, it’s not just about the here and now, it’s about the future.”
There is, however, an alarming sense of déjà vu beginning to do the rounds at St Mary’s, with continued success for Southampton drawing further admiring glances from afar.
The likes of Clyne, Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama are being linked with moves elsewhere, with Beasant conceding that another testing summer could like in store for the Saints.
He added: “That’s the thing. As much as Southampton have done well to be up there with the big boys, a club like them with their reputation, they aren’t ranked in the top four and are probably punching above their weight being up there.
“There is the opportunity for the lads to prove what they can do in that position, and the lads have taken that. Unfortunately, it can be that success leads to other clubs coming in, having seen what you can do at that level in the Premier League, and they have the finances and resources to offer that Southampton can’t.”
For now, though, exit talk remains little more than idle gossip, with the transfer window yet to open and managers across the country yet to play their recruitment hand in public.
Southampton will be hoping that their door is not beaten down by demanding rivals with deep pockets, but even if it is, Koeman has already shown that he is capable of succeeding in the face of adversity and will continue to go about his business in his unassuming manner without succumbing to the fears or doubts of others.
Dave Beasant was visiting Gordon Saunders Goalkeeping as part of the Vauxhall Football Youth Programme in partnership with Tustain Motors. For more news, views and competitions go to www.vauxhallfootball.co.uk