Claude Puel admitted a communication breakdown led to Shane Long’s bizarre second half substitution against Manchester City.
The Republic of Ireland striker was replaced by Jay Rodriguez just 22 minutes after being introduced himself for Manolo Gabbiadini.
When he came off Long looked distinctly unhappy, and exchanged words with Puel and assistant manager Eric Black on the bench, before disappearing straight down the tunnel while the Saints coaching staff were left shrugging their shoulders and shaking their heads.
It transpired that Long, who had earlier been clattered by Nicolas Otamendi, felt a tweak in his hamstring, but was not asking to be taken off.
Confusion reigned though between the pitch and the staff, and so Long was withdrawn.
When asked about the incident, Puel laughed: “It was difficult. It seems that Shane felt a touch himself his hamstring and it seems a misunderstanding between him and the staff.
“It was a precaution to take off Shane but I hope it’s nothing and it will be good for Shane tomorrow or the next day.”
For Puel it was at least one reason to have a light hearted moment on a day he would probably otherwise like to forget.
After a good recent run, frustration abounded at St Mary’s as Saints were well beaten by City.
Though Pep Guardiola’s team were good, Saints didn’t really ever threaten to win the game.
They also failed to really put goalkeeper Claudio Bravo under pressure, despite the obvious nerves he was probably suffering after what has been a tough time of late which has left his performances under the spotlight.
It took Saints until very late in the game to even get their solitary shot on target.
Puel was less concerned about a lack of pressure on Bravo specifically, and in a more general sense as to why that was the case.
“To put the pressure is the pressing and to play and to have a good opportunities and this team perhaps has a goalkeeper in difficulties but we saw with some action we can do better,” he admitted.
“Good possibility in the second half when we recover the ball up the pitch it is a good opportunity for us without a good clinical and it was a shame because without playing a fantastic game we had some opportunities to score.
“I think at the end of the game we can have different opportunities but about our play it was not sufficient for us.”