GARTH Crooks would do well to study the Premier League tables of the last four seasons before concluding that what Saints “have done for too long is flirt with relegation”.

In the BBC pundit’s team of the week feature on the corporation’s website, he has selected Saints men Jack Stephens and Mario Lemina.

But rather than this being a compliment to Saints’ comeback victory at West Bromwich Albion, Crooks has taken a couple of swipes at the club instead.

On top of suggesting Lemina should be playing for a “proper outfit” like Arsenal, he comments about Saints’ struggles with relegation, despite them finishing in the top eight for four successive seasons.

He writes: “The Saints, however, on the back of a fabulous 3-2 win, must decide whether they are a feeder club for the top-four sides or are going to try to win something themselves. An FA Cup triumph, perhaps, or even a period in Europe, will provide stability.

“They have certainly produced the players over the years to do both. What they are doing - and have done for far too long - is flirting with relegation. When you flirt with relegation, the inevitable always happens.”

Although strugging this term, Saints have been relegated once from the Premier League in its history and since arriving back in the top-flight in 2012/13 have finished 14th, 8th, 7th, 6th and 8th – not exactly flirting with relegation, Garth.

On top of that, perhaps forgetting football is allowed to exist below the "big clubs", Crooks suggests Gabon international Lemina is playing for the “wrong team” and should be tuning out for a “proper outfit” after a stellar display and goal in the 3-2 win at West Brom.

He writes: “This lad is playing for the wrong team. Seriously. Mario Lemina is an Arsenal player if ever I have seen one.

“For far too long in my opinion, Arsene Wenger has faffed around with the likes of Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin. Wenger should have invested in Lemina during the summer and got in there well before Southampton did.

“Lemina is wasted at St Mary's. Sorry, Southampton fans, but you just do not have the class of player to bring the best out of this lad.

“His performance against West Brom was immense. Admittedly, we have not seen enough performances like this - but you would if you put him in a proper outfit.”

Saints fans, who have been riled by these comments, should really take this as a compliment. Crooks has got himself wound up about this, but a quick check of the club’s recent recruitment record would give him all he needs to know.

“Wasted” at a club that has a track record of taking players from one level to the next?

And what constitutes a “proper outfit”? One that perhaps has finished in the top eight for the last four seasons, perhaps?

One that has played in Europe in three of the last four campaigns?

Lemina himself has spoken about his own performances in recent times and much of the lull in his form, he says, is down to an ankle injury that sidelined him in October.

In December, he told the Daily Echo: “Coming back from that injury I had to start from fresh again, build up my confidence from nothing, while I was watching my team-mates play when I wanted to help them.

“It’s just building up that confidence again now.”

He added: “The injury was a set-back because I was adapting to life in England, but I’m starting to build up confidence in it now.

“I don’t think it will be long before I’m back to 100 per cent.

“It took a long time to get over, but now things are getting better and I’m working hard – I’m gaining confidence all the time while I’m training and playing.”

The 24-year-old’s return to form at West Brom is a promising sign that Lemina can reach the heights he was at in September, prior to his injury.