Puel speaks ahead of United clash

Southampton manager Claude Puel has stressed the importance of holding onto possession and defending as team ahead of their league fixture against Manchester United.

Puel’s charges began their 2016/17 league campaign with a 1-1 draw against Watford and the 54-year-old admitted that he was disappointed with the way his side played in the first-half.

“The first half against Watford was not good, but I liked the second half, with a good reaction of the players. This is very important, and we could see in the second half all the possibilities of my team, of my players, and this is a good phase and I would like to see this against United. To play football is the most important for us,” he told the club’s website.

The former Nice mentor highlighted that his team are quite capable of playing good football, but said that he wants them to defend as a unit when they come up against the Red Devils at Old Trafford on Friday.

“We know we can make good football and it’s important to keep the ball and good acquaintance between the players, to defend together – all the details of our play and our game, and this is most important for me. It’s important to keep the good concentration with this,” he said.

The manager also confirmed the absence of defender Ryan Bertrand through injury and the return of defender Jose Fonte, who enjoyed an extended break after clinching the 2016 European Championship with Portugal.

“Ryan will be injured. He cannot make training sessions this week and for the moment it’s important to resolve his problem. It is not a big injury, but it’s not possible to see him on the pitch,” he added.

“Jose has made good training sessions and we will see for Manchester if he can keep his place or not. José, the same as Maya Yoshida or Virgil van Dijk, make good training and it is interesting for the team to have good players for this position.”