Sport Soccer

Thursday 19 April 2018

Claude Puel feeling good after Saints win, but heat increases on Guidolin

Claude Puel was able to celebrate his first Premier League win as Southampton manager
Claude Puel was able to celebrate his first Premier League win as Southampton manager

Claude Puel was relieved to end his wait for a first Premier League win as Southampton manager.

Charlie Austin climbed off the bench to secure a 1-0 victory over Swansea to lift Saints out of the bottom three.

Austin, back among the substitutes despite his two-goal heroics in the Europa League win over Sparta Prague on Thursday evening, watched his team-mates spurn a host of chances.

Nathan Redmond was the chief culprit with some glaring misses, including one from just eight yards.

But Austin had been on for just 10 minutes - and already hit the crossbar - when he controlled Dusan Tadic's deflected cross and hammered it into the net.

"It's a good feeling," admitted Puel. "Also it's very important for my players.

"It's difficult when you don't score from all those chances. But congratulations to my players - they kept a good attitude, a good spirit and a good structure to create those chances.

"To finish with a victory is very important for the confidence."

Swansea, by contrast, did not look united, with boss Francesco Guidolin forced to deny more apparent rifts with his players.

After last week's public fall-out with Neil Taylor, having hauled him off before half-time against Chelsea - he was left out of the squad altogether against Saints - this time Ki Sung-yueng reacted angrily to being taken off.

"This is not a good attitude," said the under-pressure Italian. " I have to speak with him.

"I respect all my players, the relationship is important. There is no problem. In this squad I have good guys, good players, there is no problem with the relationship. I can understand it, but it's not a good situation.

"There is not a problem between me and Neil. In this period I prefer Stephen (Kingsley). I have Angel Rangel as sub and Kyle Naughton can play left or right so I don't need another left-back in the ranks."

Of more pressing concern for Guidolin was an abject performance, with striker Fernando Llorente not getting so much as a sniff of an opportunity to open his goal account.

"I am disappointed. We have to improve as soon as possible, because this way it's difficult to win in the Premier League," he added.

"I am worried because my job is my job and it is my attitude to be always ready if it's possible.

"Now we have Man City on Wednesday (in the EFL Cup), Man City again on Saturday, and then Liverpool. We have to improve. The opponent is not important, but our attitude is."

Press Association

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