Southampton manager Russell Martin says he is proud of his players, despite suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Championship promotion rivals Leicester City last night.
The two teams went into the fixture at St Mary’s last night having lost their previous fixture before the international break, although Southampton arguably had the most to prove having been thumped 5-0 by Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The night started off in the worst possible fashion when the evergreen Jamie Vardy handed the Foxes a first minute lead, and the advantage was doubled in the 18th minute by Kasey McAteer. The Saints pulled a goal back through Samuel Edozie midway through the first half but Wilfred Ndidi restored the two goal lead in added time.
Southampton started the second half brightly, pushing the visitors further back as they searched for a way back into the game. However, the gamble failed to pay off and Stephy Mavididi killed the tie off in the 67th minute with a counter-attacking move.
The win saw Leicester move top of the table, whilst Southampton now find themselves playing catch up in seventh. Their successive big defeats see them with an unenviable -5 goal difference and they know that they have to recover – starting with the visit of Ipswich Town on Tuesday night.
Speaking after the game, manager Russell Martin refused to condemn his players, instead saying that it was a much better performance and that they were unlucky not to get anything out of the game. Via Leicestershire Live, the 37-year-old said;
“It is a very different feeling to Sunderland (5-0 defeat). I am proud of the players, people will criticise me for saying that but they did what we asked of them.
“I take loads from that and it was a much better performance than Sunderland. If anyone expected there not to be any pain when it is such a big change then they are very naive.
“Leicester lost the ball as much as we did but they have come out on the right end of the scoreline so Enzo (Maresca) will not get criticised. I asked the players to go toe to toe with a really good team and I thought it was a very good game.
“We made life difficult for ourselves by conceding two early goals. They were really clinical and we weren’t. They took their chances and we didn’t.”
It’s an odd stance to take following a 4-1 defeat, especially because Southampton have now conceded nine goals in two games. However, he is right in that his team did dominate large parts of the game, although Leicester were happy to defend their two-goal lead in the second half before picking them off with a fourth goal. A defeat against Ipswich on Tuesday could see the pressure begin to mount, which shows how quickly things can turn in football.
The Saints won three of their opening four fixtures and looked to be one of the teams to beat in the Championship. They expectation is that they will still return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, but Russell Martin needs to stop the rot before questions start to be asked as to whether he is the right man to lead the charge.