Belfast Telegraph

Schneiderlin happy at Saints

Morgan Schneiderlin says he has been impressed by the ambition shown by Southampton to replace some of their departing stars after appearing set for the exit himself in the summer.

This has been a tumultuous few months for all those connected with Saints, with a best-ever Barclays Premier League campaign swiftly followed by the exit of manager Mauricio Pochettino and a host of key players.

Those exits, as well as the January departure of divisive executive chairman Nicola Cortese, led to widespread talk of a meltdown at St Mary's, which Schneiderlin got caught up in during what he called an "unbelievable summer" collectively and individually.

Fresh from representing France at the World Cup, the midfielder made no secret of his desire to leave St Mary's but the club dug their heels in and managed to retain his services amidst interest from the likes of Tottenham.

Some supporters have said keeping hold of Schneiderlin is the best bit of business Saints did this summer - the kind of support he is determined to repay.

"It was just fantastic," he said. "It's like I said before, for me, I never wanted to disrespect anyone and it's just sometimes in life that you need to make choices.

"I think everyone - I think you, I think the fans, I think everyone - was a bit worried when we lost so many players at the start and, of course, you ask yourself the question.

"For me, I had a big step in the World Cup, so I didn't want to struggle in this year.

"But the club showed by buying players that they still have ambitions and that's just what I was asking for.

"The fans, they're very good with me for six years, for seven years now and I'm very happy and I just want to give them back something."

Schneiderlin says the situation is now resolved and he is relishing the chance to keep improving under Ronald Koeman.

The 24-year-old has started the season fantastically, following up a brace in the win at West Ham with a fine curling effort at the end of Saturday's 4-0 defeat of Newcastle - against whom six of Saints' eight summer signings started.

"They have a very good scouting department and they took some very good players and players who will integrate into the philosophy of the club," Schneiderlin said.

"Nice people who want to work hard and everything, and that's all well done to them.

"Losing players like Luke Shaw, like Rickie Lambert, like Adam Lallana, like Dejan Lovren, it's something that's very hard to replace and after four games we are happy.

"But we need to make a judgement at the end of the season, or in six months. We have to stay with our feet on the ground, keep working and then doing our best, but it's at the end of the year that everyone's going to judge us."

For Saturday's opponents Newcastle, however, many have already made their judgement.

The fans called for manager Alan Pardew to leave throughout the match at St Mary's after a tepid and, at times, embarrassing display.

Schneiderlin played under Pardew during his time at Saints but it is his friends in the Newcastle team he feels particular sympathy for.

"Remy Cabella, Moussa Sissoko, everyone, they're good friends of mine and, of course, it's difficult for them," he said, holding Cabella's shirt.

"They are very good players and, the mix, it takes time for all of them.

"It takes longer for some than others, but they are good players, I'm sure they will bounce back and they will have a good season.

"I'm not really worried, because I know their quality, and they are hard workers as well and they're going to bounce back."

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