Southampton took their unbeaten run to 17 games in the EFL Championship, a sequence that has seen them rise to third place in the table, and just three points off out-of-form Ipswich Town. Russell Martin was so keyed on their 2-1 win over Plymouth Argyle that he snubbed the visit of the Prime Minister to St. Mary’s.
PM Rishi Sunak attended the game on the south coast, but the Saints boss seemed to dismiss this when he commented after the game. “He might have come down [to see the players], but I have no interest in saying hello. How’s that for honesty?” MSN Sport picked up the story reported by The Telegraph.
“I hope he enjoyed himself just like anyone who comes here. I hope they enjoy themselves. I have no interest [in chatting] because I’m a football manager. I’m not sure we’re aligned on too much politically but I know he’s a fan and I hope he enjoyed watching the team.
“I’m sure some people would be excited about him being here but we had a job to do and we were here to win a football match and we did.”
🚨 NEW: Southampton manager Russell Martin on supporting fan Rishi Sunak
“He might have come down [to see the players], but I have no interest in saying hello. How’s that for honesty?” pic.twitter.com/uJ0K3pMCxq
— Politics UK (@PolitlcsUK) December 29, 2023
Party politics were firmly put to one side, as Martin who in 2018 said he was a Green Party member, concentrated on his team’s performance. A first half that was dominated by the surging Saints failed to produce a goal. But Carlos Alcaraz and Che Adams scored in a quick-fire brace on either side of the hour mark.
Plymouth had a goal disallowed before Adam’s scored and then grabbed a late goal to set up a frantic finale. “The last few minutes were mental. We took our foot off the gas and it is frustrating. They’ll feel really aggrieved by the decision but it wouldn’t have been deserved.
“It was attack versus defence for so long. We should have scored before we did. It is a big learning curve for the lads as they should have had a clean sheet.”
Southampton are very much in the ascendency and are chasing down the automatic promotion places. They, like Leicester City at the top, are very much a team built for Premier League football. The fact that the Prime Minister was able to catch the game, but not the managers focus is testament to how Russell Martin is wired in to the task in hand.