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Be cool, says Puel after Southampton fightback

Claude Puel sought to lift the fear factor with a half-time pep talk before his Southampton side recovered to a 1-1 draw against Watford.

Puel’s first Premier League game at the helm started badly at St Mary’s with Etienne Capoue firing the visitors into a ninth-minute lead.

Southampton improved after the interval and Nathan Redmond marked his debut by dispatching a low volley before the hour.

The close-season signing from Norwich City, playing as a centre-forward as opposed to on the wing, thought he had a second in the dying minutes, only to be denied correctly by the offside flag.

Watford played the final 14 minutes with 10 men after Ben Watson was dismissed for a professional foul on Shane Long, but Puel was pleased with his team’s eventual efforts.

“At half-time, I told the players ‘just don’t be afraid’. In the second half it was important to make good intentions and play good football,” the former Monaco boss told BBC Sport.

“If you play good football, you don’t have problems. This was true in the second half.

“In the second half you can see the future.”  

Puel audaciously compared Redmond’s pacy attacking qualities to France great Thierry Henry earlier this week and he was satisfied with the 22-year-old’s efforts through the middle.

“It’s interesting for him and the team,” he said of the positional change.

“I said that he can play a good season as a striker. It was good for his confidence to score.”

Redmond was disappointed to miss out on three points, but happy to report his manager’s galvanising effect.

“We wanted to get off to a good start,” he told BBC Sport. “We were sloppy in the first half but luckily picked it up in the second. We’ve got to start better in the next game.

“The manager told us at half-time to take pride in what we were doing. We showed great spirit to come back.

“To get my first goal is good but I’d have preferred the three points.”

Sat 13 Aug, 2016
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