Remi Garde sees green shoots of recovery in Aston Villa's draw with Southampton
Remi Garde has told his Aston Villa team to use Saturday's 1-1 draw at Southampton to inspire them to Premier League survival.
Villa were thoroughly outplayed both before and after Joleon Lescott's close-range goal had given them the lead at half-time, but despite an obvious lack of confidence they remained resilient amid Southampton's increasing pressure to limit them to only Oriol Romeu's equaliser.
On an afternoon when the similarly-struggling Sunderland and Swansea experienced defeat, a point appeared more valuable than it otherwise might have done, and Garde believes the result demonstrated his team's ability to avoid relegation.
"The spirit we have shown, the talent we have in the team," Villa's manager responded when asked why he thought survival was possible. "We played a very good side. (Southampton) are used to playing for a long time together, you can see that.
"A point, a very important one. We suffered a lot, we were under pressure. They have pace, have powerful attacking players. It was difficult for us. It's a good point for us.
"The spirit the team showed (was the most pleasing aspect of Villa's performance). We had very tough moments where Southampton were pushing, creating many chances."
In Garde's first match in charge, Villa impressed in securing a 0-0 draw at Manchester City but then lost 4-0 at Everton and 3-2 at home to Watford.
Saturday's draw gives Garde two draws and two defeats since his appointment as manager, and this time, he stressed, it was important they build upon it unlike they did after the draw against City.
"Everybody was fighting for everybody. We showed the spirit, we need to show that in every game now if we want to avoid relegation.
"I still believe because there's still a lot of games (remaining). The spirit is important. What we have shown is interesting for the future. I felt the same after Manchester City and then we dropped our fighting spirit. We can't do that anymore. I hope this is the real start."
The draw also ended a run of three straight defeats for Southampton, but while Ronald Koeman was pleased with the desire his team showed to recover having trailed 1-0, he rued the wasted goalscoring opportunities that should have given them victory.
"If you start well you don't expect to be down after 45 minutes but you hope the players will be patient and have the belief and confidence to get back in the game," the manager said.
"The last 20, 25 minutes I thought we showed good character, had good chances, and did everything to win the game. Some days you get your chances and don't score, and it was difficult, (Villa) dropped very deep.
"Congratulations to the players, their belief and spirit. We kept that until the last seconds.
"(But) if you get four big chances and not one on target, I don't understand. At least in the box, close to the box, the shot has to be on target. Maybe it's a lack of confidence but they are quality players, they have to bring more."