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THE SIX O'CLOCK MUSE: May 5th

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On the doorstep of another consecutive season of improvement, we asked our writers if this season would be a failure should Saints not qualify for Europe.

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This question has created more discussion than expected, so we'll get right to it:

If Saints don't qualify for Europa League or surpass or equal last season's points total, would you consider this season a failure? Why or why not?

George Galpin

I don't. Five years of constant progress had to stop somewhere, and in some respects to stay still, you have to move forward.

We're in a good position to push on now. Three top 8 finishes ain't to be sniffed at in my opinion.

Jake Hughes

No chance. All in all it will have been a good season - nothing more, nothing less - albeit a frustrating one.

Beating the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are punctuated with dropping point against the likes of Aston Villa, Norwich City, Bournemouth and others.

If we had any morsel of consistency, we could have been in with a shout of taking advantage of the average seasons endured by the so-called 'big clubs.'

Still, it's been a good season and one I hope we build and improve on.

Dan Noutch

If you look at the inconsistencies amongst the 'big clubs' and the fact that Leicester are champions, you have to say this season is a chance missed.

But it's definitely not a failure. Considering the blip we had during the middle of the season, to b
e up with Leicester and Spurs in terms of the form table since the turn of the year shows there's definitely some positives. There have been some terrific results, again some shrewd business and some standout individual performances.

It sounds ridiculous saying this just a matter of days after Leicester have been crowned champions, but this next stage of breaking into the top six will be the hardest.

Daniel Vaughan

For me, yes. And I would add to that that the last couple of seasons have been something of a missed opportunity given how the top clubs have under performed.

In my opinion the way that other teams have been adding top talent to their ranks, how club
s like West Ham have taken huge strides and overtaken us, and our turnover of key staff (which shows zero sign of ending!) means we have wasted opportunities.

While I am hopeful of our scouting department delivering the goods again after another summer of sales, I struggle to see how we can put out a team with the same togetherness of a Leicester, who have a ton of English players who all play for each other and give 110% every game while in this yearly sales cycle. Just a couple of years ago we had this cohesion with an academy at the core, but couldn't keep them, for whatever reason. And by being known as a club that will nearly always sale I cannot envisage a scenario where we get it right so quickly again and keep that going over a whole campaign. How certain players are suddenly playing very well ahead of the window sickens me as we all know what happens next...

Another season of 7th/8th is good, don't get me wrong, especially considering where we were just a few years ago. But I don't buy into the idea that we should just be happy to be nowhere near winning something forever.

While 'a failure' is harsh, very harsh, we need to find a way to break the cycle of having to restart every year after being picked apart by the vultures. If we fail to get Europa, or don't finish above Liverpool or West Ham then I think that becomes very difficult. Added to that, both our cup exits were pretty disappointing, again.

David Williams

Going into this campaign I had real worries.

In Schneiderlin we had lost by far our best player. When he played we were a champions league level team, when he wasn't available we weren't too much better than the relegation strugglers. (take my word
for it, I did the math)

But I really should have learnt to trust Les Reed by now. He replaced the French international with two different but excellent midfielders. His right back purchases weren't the best business he has ever done, but somehow he managed to find an upgrade on Alderweireld. A player who was already far too good for us!

No matter how the last two games pan out it's still been a stupidly good season. Next year though, we have to push on because the rest of the league won't continue to be an omnishambles.

In the future I hope we get to the level that Sevilla are but for now a season of consolidation, all things considered, is decent.

Paul Johnson

Absolutely not. There's nothing wrong with staying constant if it's amongst the top end of the division. With a few games left we are still in for Europe, and will be close to (or will beat) our highest points total ever. Staying at that level for a few years is a great achievement.

I completely understand people saying that we have missed an opportunity this year, but looking at our expectations and worries at the beginning of the year, and arriving towards the end of the season now having been about where we were before, I think there's some credit to that.

Tommy Scott

I think you have to split this up into parts.

I would consider the Europa League, and both cups, complete failures. We bought a squad ready for more games throughout the season, we had depth, and then didn't seem bothered in Denmark. If we can't win the Premier League, I really want to see a cup run, and once again, we just never seem too bothered. So, yes, the three non-league competitions were failures because of the lack of preparedness and success.

The league, however, is a different story. One argument could be made that we lost games that you shouldn't lose, and dropped points that you shouldn't drop. BUT, Saints also earned points that weren't expected (most recently Manchester City).

That being said, I believe that this current squad would be primed for some type of cup run in one of the competitions next season. So if they don't make Europa League play, and lose players because of it, then hindsight would tell me that this season was a failure as well.

As for now though, Saints will finish top-8 for a third straight year, and are banging on the door for a top-6 finish next. They are going in the right direction, so regardless of whether this season specifically was a failure, the overall progress of this club is outstanding.

Those are our thoughts, what are yours?

*Unfortunately, I couldn't get the fans' discussions on in time, but check those out on our Twitter account!*