Charlie Austin was wanted by just about any Saints fan if you asked them during January. Our strikers had been struggling, and Austin was in the Championship with QPR, and had a good goal scoring record in the Premier League. It sounded like he would've come to Southampton this summer after his contract ran out, but Saints were desperate and paid a small fee to bring the Englishman to the south coast during the window.
In my opinion, his fee was worth it just by his one goal last season, in his debut at Old Trafford. With a 0-0 draw on the horizon, a James Ward-Prowse free-kick from the corner found Austin's head and just like that, Austin was a hero. If anything else, Austin signing may have lit a fire under the other forwards, who knew there was now more and better competition.
Austin's signing came with the likes of Pelle and Shane Long picking up their form a notch. Austin is now all about the future, and he could be a great backup to Shane Long when needed. The rest of last season was hampered by injuries and the like, but a full pre-season with Southampton will do him wonders, and he could be at his best.
He's not nearly as quick as Shane Long, but don't let that fool you. Austin can find himself with space and he knows how to put the ball by the keeper. Austin, who's only 26, will be a mainstay at Saints and could wind up being one of the better strikers Southampton has seen. It's a real possibility if he can stay healthy.
SMM FINAL GRADE: 5/10
SMM Summary: Because this grade looks back on last season, it's a bit lower. In five appearances, Austin scored the winner at Old Trafford, but then injuries took him away from the pitch for the majority of the rest of the season. If you look forward though, he gives us great depth at forward, especially if Pelle stays. Depending on the new manager's philosophy, we could see a lot more of Austin next season, and that's a good thing.