HARRY Redknapp stressed it was results over the season and not yesterday's defeat against Manchester United which had ultimately ended Saints' 27-year stay in the Premiership.

"It was always going to be a tough day," he said. "I think the club has won two away games in two years.

"When it comes down to beating Manchester United, it's tough. How many games do they lose?

"It's been coming since the Christmas before last.

"I don't know how many games they have won. We are where we are because that is where we are."

Saints have only won 11 times in 59 league matches, a run which was kickstarted by the 2-0 defeat at Fulham on Boxing Day 2003, when they travelled to Loftus Road fourth in the table.

Yet for almost an hour yesterday, it looked as if Redknapp might pull off a memorable escape, with Saints taking the lead and then holding United while other results went the right way.

At half-time Saints were in the fourth from bottom slot and dreaming.

"All season has been like a roller-coaster," said Redknapp.

"We went 1-0 up and at half-time I felt we had a good chance of winning, but once their second went in it was difficult.

"We played well in the first half.

"The fans were fantastic and I'm sure this club will come back up.

"It is a good, good club that deserves to be in the Premier League."

Redknapp was also generous in his praise for West Brom's Bryan Robson.

He said: "He's fantastic guy, a great character, I love Bryan. I thought West Brom would win."

With the squad he had and the fixtures that were left when he arrived in December, Redknapp always knew it would be an uphill task to keep Saints in the top flight.

"I walked in and one of the coaches who was here before said 'you've got no chance of keeping this team up. Impossible'," said the Saints boss.

"After the first week I thought that fella was right. We got beat five at Tottenham and he was spot on.

"Dave Bassett rung me and said: 'Harry, I saw them get beat five at Watford. Are you sure you know what you are doing?'

"It's like everything - we all think we can do it, but we tried and in the end we weren't good enough.

"We did a bit of quick surgery in the January transfer window and I felt we improved.

"It's not an excuse, but we had hard fixtures. We still had Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool and Everton to come at home.

"So you are looking at your home games and most of them were against teams in the top positions.

"The West Broms and Palaces had been here."