Saturday 26 May 2018

Southampton boss Mark Hughes says hotel booking mystery helped his players to vital win at Swansea

Saints boss Mark Hughes celebrates with first team coach Kelvin Davis after vital win at Swansea. Photo: Reuters
Saints boss Mark Hughes celebrates with first team coach Kelvin Davis after vital win at Swansea. Photo: Reuters

Phil Blanche

Mark Hughes felt the rumpus over Southampton's cancelled Swansea hotel booking had worked in their favour after the Saints had grabbed a Premier League lifeline.

Substitute Manolo Gabbiadini's 72nd-minute winner secured Southampton a 1-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium, pushing Swansea closer to the Championship and relegating West Brom into the bargain.

It came after a bitter build-up which saw Southampton forced to stay 35 miles away at the Vale of Glamorgan resort after their block booking in Swansea city centre was cancelled because of a 'virus' at the Marriott Hotel.

Hughes had expressed his anger at the situation in a television interview before kick-off after the Southampton squad had completed the final 100 yards of the journey on foot to ensure they were not delayed entering the stadium.

And Hughes said of the hotel row later: "I'm not for one minute suggesting Swansea had anything to do with that.

"Maybe it was over-zealous Swansea fans in positions to affect our hotel booking, but those things you can use to your own benefit as a motivating factor.

"We got held up a little bit outside as well because we were first here on the coach and apparently we were meant to wait for Swansea.

"But we weren't going to do that. We were too focused, we got off the bus and walked the 100 yards into the ground. We weren't going to be denied and messed about."

Southampton were worthy winners on a night when the stakes were so great.

Both sides started the night on 33 points and Southampton's win almost certainly guarantees their safety ahead of the final weekend.

Swansea would need to beat already-relegated Stoke and enjoy a nine-goal swing to finish above Southampton, who entertain the champions Manchester City on Sunday.

Wild Southampton celebrations greeted the final whistle, and Hughes was so caught up in those that he did have the customary post-match handshake with his Swansea counterpart Carlos Carvalhal.

"Those celebrations shouldn't be misinterpreted," said Hughes, dismissing the suggestion that they were down to the belief that Southampton are safe. They were emotion as a consequence of winning this key game.

"We had to win and we understood that and it wasn't that we were celebrating staying up because there is still an issue to be resolved in that regard.

"There is a little bit of a cushion but we are playing Man City and we have to be careful.

"If there is one team in this league who has the capability of scoring a lot of goals it's Man City."

Swansea's best chance of survival seems to rest on overcoming Stoke and hoping Huddersfield lose their final two games at Chelsea on Wednesday and at home to Arsenal on Sunday.

Were that to happen, Swansea would finish above Huddersfield on goal difference.

"My feeling is one of frustration," Swansea manager Carvalhal said. "It's very difficult to talk about this game because my players did the maximum.

"We created chances and they made some fantastic saves. It's horrible not to depend on ourselves. Let's see what will happen (at Chelsea).

"We will wait for some kind of miracle to happen."

Press Association

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