Pressure is increasing on Southampton manager Russell Martin after four consecutive defeats.
Southampton manager Russell Martin believes his side are struggling more than fellow newly-relegated sides Leeds United and Leicester City due to the fact there has been more change at the club this summer.
The Saints enjoyed an excellent start to the season, picking up 10 points from their first four league games, but they have now lost their last four matches, dropping down to 15th in the table.
Southampton were beaten 2-1 by Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, with defensive errors once again proving to be costly, and Martin’s side have now conceded 19 league goals this season, the most in the Championship.
In contrast, Leicester currently sit top of the table after winning seven of their first eight league games, and Leeds United are sixth having lost just one league game so far.
There were a number of high-profile exits at St Mary’s this summer, including James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia, Tino Livramento, Mohammed Salisu and Nathan Tella, while Martin was allowed to bring in eight new additions.
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Leicester also lost a number of their stars following relegation, such as James Maddison and Harvey Barnes, and there were a host of departures at Leeds, including the likes of Rodrigo, Tyler Adams, Robin Koch, Brenden Aaronson, Marc Roca, Max Wober, Jack Harrison and Luis Sinisterra.
What did Russell Martin say?
While he accepts his side must improve, Martin says that the fact Leicester and Leeds have had less change over the summer is a key reason why the pair are performing better than Southampton.
“Leicester did a lot of their business early and have had less change on the pitch,” Martin told Daily Echo journalist Alfie House.
“It’s not excuses though.
“We’re relying on a few players to get fit during league matches.
“We should still have been better, though.”
Despite the recent struggles, Martin has full confidence he is the right man to turn the Saints’ form around and insists he will stick with his possession-based style of play.
“The situation is what it is. It’s frustrating, it’s been painful and annoying,” Martin told the Daily Echo.
“There is a lot of stuff we need to work on and improve. I feel like we have really narrowed down and laser-focused on some things that are really going to help us.
“Any time we play you analyse the game and you learn from it. We practise relentlessly then we are going to perform.
“It’s the same cycle. I hope everyone here now understands that we are going to behave in the same way. We are going to work relentlessly and tweak when we have to.
“I’m really conscious that I’ve been through these moments at both of my previous clubs. I am here now because we stayed on the same path and we had conviction in what we did.
“I am also really conscious that I will be praised if it works, if it doesn’t I’ll get called a stubborn git. It’s such a fine balance.
“I’ve had some really good chats with the owners this week about how they can help us, and they have been brilliant. I get the feeling that everyone here is with us.
“The energy has been great, so different to the energy when we first arrived here 12 weeks ago. We will continue on that.
“I’ve got no doubt and real confidence that the results will turn around. You can’t just be outcome-based. If you are, it can lead to a lot of pain – it’s not a very healthy environment.”
What next for Southampton?
After four consecutive defeats, Southampton face a tough game this weekend as they host Leeds at St Mary’s on Saturday.
The Whites are unbeaten in their last six league games, and with the likes of Joel Piroe, Wilfried Gnonto and Georginio Rutter finding form, the Saints will need to tighten up significantly at the back.
Martin is right that there has been a lot of change at the club, and losing players late in the window has been damaging, but there were also a number of departures at both Leicester and Leeds, so it cannot be used as an excuse.
With pressure increasing on Martin, he must turn his side’s form around quickly, although it could be another difficult afternoon against Leeds.