Kyle Walker-Peters believes that the instability caused by the influx of new signings contributed significantly to relegated Southampton’s struggling season.
The Saints have spent most of a dismal campaign in the Premier League relegation zone and were ultimately sentenced to the Sky Bet Championship by Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Fulham.
The bottom of the division drafted 15 players in the last two transfer windows, while current boss Ruben Selles is the third man in charge this term following the sackings of Ralph Hasenhuttl and Nathan Jones.
England defender Walker-Peters admits the players have been underperforming but feels the turmoil in the background has not helped the club’s situation.
“No, he hasn’t,” said the 26-year-old. “To be 100 percent honest, that has been very difficult for everyone.
“When I first came here it was a smaller team, a tight-knit team and sometimes when there are a lot of changes things get complicated.
“On the pitch we have not been good enough, we have not done our job well enough and ultimately that is why we are being relegated.”
The loss to the Cottagers was Southampton’s 24th in the top flight during a dismal season that has brought just six wins and just 31 goals, with 66 conceded.
Wins over Chelsea and Leicester in Selles’ first three games after replacing Jones raised hopes of survival, but they were followed by a measly three points from the next 33 available.
“We haven’t scored enough goals, we haven’t stopped enough goals and ultimately if you’re not good enough in both areas it’s hard to win games,” Walker-Peters said.
“That’s been the story of our season.”
Entering the Championship is likely to cause an exodus of players at St Mary’s, with Walker-Peters expected to be one of those to attract interest.
The full-back, who made his international debut last year, was silent about his own future ahead of matches against Brighton and Liverpool.
He anticipates the club will try to build around the wealth of young talent they can retain as they prepare for life at the second tier.
“There are still two more games to go, so that’s my main focus: trying to make those results positive and see what happens after that,” he said.
“I still don’t look too far into my future.
“I always see myself in the Southampton shirt, I love the club. I enjoy being here, so we’ll see what happens.”
When asked how the club recovered, he replied: “It is not for me to say that the club has its own ideas and they will want to recover as soon as possible.
“They’ll try to keep as many as they can and as many as they want to keep and try to bounce back from there.”
Fulham need three points from games against Crystal Palace and Manchester United to surpass the club’s Premier League record of 53 following success on the south coast.
Cottagers midfielder Harrison Reed, who began his career at Southampton, said: “That’s huge for us as a group of players and a coaching staff.
“That is what we are looking for and pushing every day to achieve it.
“We have planned this season and we have put our stamp on it from the first game.
“It’s good to be in the position we are in, winning football matches and with the fans supporting us.”
When asked about his former club, Reed, who was relegated to Fulham in 2021, said: “It’s been a difficult season. We have been there.
“You need to put your head down and focus and win a few football games next year and I’m sure they will come back stronger.”