Mauricio Pochetinno said he “felt the kindness” from Saints fans as his first game in charge at St Mary’s ended in a goalless draw against Everton.
The new manager has been in a spin over the weekend, trying to get to know his players and prepare for the game against the Merseysiders as the dust settles on his controversial appointment in place of Nigel Adkins.
Pochettino got a decent enough welcome from Saints fans who are still hurt by Adkins’ departure – not helped by the fact that last night’s matchday programme didn’t even mention the former boss’s name – but are keen to support the new man.
“I really felt the kindness and I am very grateful for the reception that they have given me and my staff,” said Pochettino through a translator after the game.
“Everything that I’ve been told about Southampton supporters is true – they are very kind and they really support their team so I just want to repay them with honesty and work and I’m very proud to be their manager.”
It was largely Adkins’ team playing in the same way but the new manager was pleased with what he saw. “Everything is very new in a first game like this but I’m very happy with the performance and the players,” he reflected.
“They put in a great effort and I want to congratulate them with that. “Also the fans, I’m very proud of who they are and how they have taken me in.
“As for the game we created very clear chances against a very good Everton side and we have established how we intend to go forward.
“I really wanted my players to focus on being offensive against Everton. “We really wanted to be attacking minded so we were really working the long balls and also the high defensive line.
“We worked a lot on pressuring them a lot and disrupting their attack and how their midfield players link up with their attacking players.
“We were just focussing on very vertical, high-speed football.” He added: “The only shame was that we didn’t score any goals. We created a lot of chances, and were facing a very good side in Everton. They’re fifth in the league, I believe.
“So I think the team deserves a lot of credit. We did suffer a bit more in the second half, but again we were creating chances, and we just needed that bit more luck.
“I really enjoyed the game. When you’re watching it from the outside, you don’t really realise the dimension of it and how big it is.
“Just being in it you do realise and are aware of how amazing it is and why the people who work here or have worked here say it’s such an amazing league.”