Belfast Telegraph

We are all pulling in the same direction, says Saints boss Puel

Manager Claude Puel believes his whole squad have bought into his footballing philosophy and that a sense of collective identity will help see Southampton through three testing away games, which start at West Ham on Sunday.

After collecting a first Premier League win under their new French coach last weekend, the Saints made it three straight victories when they knocked Crystal Palace out of the EFL Cup on Wednesday night.

Following the West Ham game, Southampton's European campaign continues with a five-hour flight to southern Israel for Thursday night's Europa League tie against Hapoel Be'er Sheva before preparing to tackle Leicester on October 2, after which many of the players will head away again over the international break.

Puel utilised his squad for both their opening Europa League win over Sparta Prague, when Charlie Austin scored twice in the 3-0 win, and again for the Palace cup match, which saw eight changes.

The French coach, who had spells with Monaco, Lille, Lyon and Nice before coming to England following Ronald Koeman's summer departure, has faith in whatever team he selects.

"With all of these many matches it is important to keep good energy and possibilities. We must keep the same identity now all of the players have this philosophy and it is important to keep this idea, the level of our game," Puel said.

"Our different players can show their qualities, because they all participate with the same idea and organisation.

"This means we have the possibilities to change the starting (XI) of the team without changing the style of the team, we must continue with this way."

Puel added: "These three games away are going to be difficult, but also a very good challenge, (in) that my players can show they have the ability to stay strong with a good level and I hope with good results.

"It is the most difficult thing after all the long travels, with the physical (demands of the games) and playing with energy, to go there (Israel) and come back, then after two days to play Leicester.

"But it is important first to stay concentrated about West Ham, because this will be a very difficult game."

The Hammers sit third bottom of the Premier League, with just three points from five matches.

Slaven Bilic's injury-hit squad were able to edge past Accrington 1-0 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, courtesy of a stoppage-time free-kick from Dimitri Payet, a result which arrested a run of four straight defeats.

Having lost three successive Premier League matches, conceding four against both Watford and then last week at West Brom, Puel knows his Saints team will have to be on their guard as the Irons look to mount a recovery.

" Whether these results have been because it is difficult for them to play in the new (Olympic) stadium, I don't know, but I am sure that we are going to be seeing a good team with a good reaction, so it is important for us to be ready in our own mind, with big concentration," the Southampton manager said.

"We have to show intensity, quality and show a strong challenge to play this game."

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph