Russell Martin identifies Southampton problem ahead of Leeds United Championship clash

The two former Premier League sides go head to head this weekend when Daniel Farke takes his Whites side to St Mary’s.
Southampton manager Russell Martin has urged his side to be less ‘passive’ when they take on Leeds United at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Two of the Championship promotion favourites go head to head on the south coast in Saturday’s lunchtime clash, with both clubs undergoing contrasting fortunes. While Leeds took their time to find form under Daniel Farke after a difficult opening month, the Saints bounced back from relegation and were unbeaten until their visit to Sunderland just before the international break.

However, that 5-0 defeat was the first of four consecutive losses for Martin’s side, culminating in the 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough on Saturday in what was Michael Carrick’s side’s first league win of the season. By contrast, Leeds are starting to put a run together and, after failing to win their first three games, Farke’s men are now on an six-match unbeaten run.

Adam Blackmore column: Why Southampton can't afford Russell Martin growing  pains - BBC Sport

What’s more, they’ve not conceded a goal in the Championship since the 4-3 win at Ipswich Town in late August, and go into the game at St Mary’s three points better off than the Saints. Martin was disappointed with the nature of the defeat at Middlesbrough, and wants to see the intensity return to his side when Leeds come to visit.

“When we go 1-0 ahead, the mentality of the entire team totally changes,” he told the Daily Echo. “We didn’t keep hold of the ball. If you’re not going to press you need to look after the ball. We didn’t do any of that. That’s ultimately what hurt us. I can’t put the game down to one thing. We had the game where we wanted it and the crowd were anxious.

 

“We kept stealing the ball and then, somehow, we let the game fall out of our grasp a little bit. Fair play to Michael Carrick and his team for staying really brave. We let it slip and you can’t do that. That’s the time to get a foothold in the game.

“We didn’t keep the ball well enough, we forced it, and when we didn’t have the ball, we didn’t show the same intensity that we showed in the first 20 minutes. That’s a mentality problem, it’s not a technical or tactical problem.

“We didn’t work on being in the middle of the pitch and sitting off them. I said to the players at half-time that I didn’t know what has changed. I think it’s a subconscious decision, I don’t think it’s a conscious one. We need to get back to doing what we were doing. We started the second half really well and then we conceded the goal and it hurts again.

 

“It’s not a quick fix at the club. It’s been a tough year, 18 months and there has been a huge hangover from that. Probably bigger than we thought, but we will continue to be all in and give everything that we have got to give the fans a team to be proud of.

 

“We are going through a really tough period at the minute, maybe more than ever, but I understand the frustration. We have to keep working. It’s as simple as that.”

 

The two sides drew 2-2 in the correspending fixture last season, with Rodrigo twice on target for Jesse Marsch’s men before Joe Aribo and Kyle Walker-Peters earned the home side a Premier League point.

 

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