Belfast Telegraph

Steven Davis calls for unity at Southampton

Steven Davis has demanded Southampton use their FA Cup victory at Fulham to revive a season undermined by supporter unrest and Virgil van Dijk's departure for Liverpool.

Van Dijk has finally left for £75million, months after becoming unsettled during a period in which manager Mauricio Pellegrino has struggled to convince amid their slide to 17th in the Premier League.

That Pellegrino's predecessor Claude Puel has impressed since his appointment at Leicester has increased the pressure on him, and perhaps contributed to the club's supporters chanting for his dismissal.

Even during Saturday's 1-0, third-round victory at Craven Cottage they sang "You don't know what you're doing" in response to his decision to in the 80th minute replace Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg with Mario Lamina.

Saturday's represented their first win in 10, and club captain Davis recognises the importance of it leading to more if they are to arrest their decline.

"Once the window closed I thought Van Dijk got his head down and worked hard; people forgot he was out for six months prior to that as well," the 33-year-old said. "He's obviously got his move: now it's important we move on. He was a good player for us, but we've got other players that now need to step up.

"We're not in a good position: not happy with the first half of the season and the results. We should be doing better but we need to go and show that week in, week out on the pitch so hopefully this (victory at Fulham) is the first step in the right direction."

Asked of the chanting aimed at Pellegrino, he responded: "It's important that we all stick together. We're not in a position that any of us want to be in: fans, players and staff alike.

"Stuff like that doesn't really help. We need the fans more than ever at this point in time. Whenever you're struggling. To be fair, they were in good voice, and came (to Craven Cottage) in good numbers.

"We were obviously gutted last year not to win the (EFL Cup) final, having put in a good performance against Manchester United, but if we can have a little cup run alongside picking up our league form it'd be a boost for everybody."

After the end of their run of four successive home victories, Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic demanded his team focus on next week's Championship fixture at Middlesbrough.

Their central defender Tim Ream believes they remain in contention for promotion to the Premier League, and despite the disappointed of being eliminated from the FA Cup, insists that should become their aim.

"We are frustrated to be dropping out of the competition, but we didn't do enough to put the ball in the back of the net," said the American, 30

"The cup was important, we put out a very strong team. We did take it very seriously and wanted to win and we were pushing to get the equaliser but now it is time to switch our focus onto the league and try to get promoted."

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