Southampton targeting Champions League within five years

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Ryan Bertrand (third left) celebrates with his Southampton team-mates after scoring against Crystal Palace
Southampton have already collected 57 points - a club record for the Premier League

Southampton want to be playing in the Champions League within five years, says executive director Les Reed.

The Saints sit seventh in the table and have already broken their Premier League record points total despite the exit of ex-boss Mauricio Pochettino and several players last summer.

Reed said: "We'd like to think we have the structure to [reach the Champions League] in the next five years.

"But it's important to be established as a top-six club over that period."

Former Charlton boss Reed, who has been at Southampton since 2010, has overseen a vast improvement at the club since it spent the 2009-10 and the 2010-11 season in League One.

After finishing eighth in the top flight last term, they are now close to qualifying for next season's Europa League.

Under new boss Ronald Koeman they are a point behind sixth-placed Tottenham and will guarantee European football next season if they finish in the top six. They could even qualify for Europe in seventh if Arsenal stay in the Champions League places and win the FA Cup.

Les Reed
Executive director Les Reed says the Saints will be disappointed not to make Europe this season

Their successful season comes after the departure of England internationals Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers, plus Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, from St Mary's for a combined total of £96m last summer.

Argentine manager Pochettino also moved to Spurs after 18 months at St Mary's.

Reed, who was acting as a mentor at Kick it Out's Raise Your Game conference, told BBC Sport: "We seem to set some kind of record every year now. It's been a fantastic season.

"For us, we have proven we were not a flash in the pan in terms of the Premier League, we were eighth last year and we still think we can get a top-six finish.

"We also have some silverware with the under-21s winning the Premier League Cup, so we are still on an upward curve and we have plans to compete at this level for many years to come.

"I would be disappointed if we didn't make Europe this season, but we have set our own standards now and we are confident over the course of the coming years we will play in Europe and we are confident we are right to have an aspiration to play in the Champions League."

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