Sport Soccer

Thursday 21 June 2018

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Mauricio Pellegrino: Southampton are looking for an identity

Mauricio Pellegrino says Saints' evolution will take time
Mauricio Pellegrino says Saints' evolution will take time

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino has admitted his side are still searching for their identity.

The Saints chase back-to-back wins for the first time this season at south-coast rivals Brighton on Sunday and the former Alaves boss told a press conference he needs more time.

"We are looking for an identity," said the Argentinian, who was installed as Claude Puel's replacement in June.

"We have played nine games in the Premier League. It's not too much when you think about the evolution of the team.

"In modern football, nine games, you can write a lot of history about that, but nine games in the history of the club is nothing.

"To build a connection between the players, this is nothing. We are changing in two or three different ways and we are changing players because we want to see how they feel in different situations."

The Saints, who lost 3-0 on their last trip to the Amex Stadium at the start of 2012, will be without club-record signing Mario Lemina due to an ankle injury sustained in training.

The former Juventus midfielder has been in fine form for his new club and will take some replacing.

"He's the type of player, and I've said this before, that we didn't have in the squad and this is the reason we bought him," Pellegrino said.

"But I think we've got players to replace him. Players with quality and most of them are ready to play, maybe in a different way because Mario is a guy that can cover a lot of distance.

"Our transition I think has improved a lot with Mario on the pitch, b ut every single player has different qualities."

One player hoping to make a rare start in Lemina's absence is Sofiane Boufal, whose stunning solo goal after stepping off the bench last week clinched his side a 1-0 home win against West Brom.

Pellegrino said his side will have to be at their best against Brighton, who have registered three Premier League wins since promotion in May.

"It will be a difficult game," he added. "Really tough because they have been working for a long period of time with the same manager, the same ideas.

"They've got clear ideas and are really tough in set-plays. On the counter-attack they are dangerous and I think we need a really good performance to take something positive.

"For me, the three teams coming from the Championship, I'm really surprised. Huddersfield, Newcastle and Brighton, they're doing really well.

"I've never seen something like that from the beginning, all three (promoted) teams playing really well, winning games and being very competitive from the beginning."

Press Association

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