Mark Hughes reacts to Southampton’s win against Swansea

Southampton got a huge 1-0 win at the Liberty Stadium tonight as a second half Manolo Gabbiadini strike gave the Saints the three points. The win has virtually guaranteed their safety in the Premier League. They’re now three points clear of Swansea, so they would have to lose against Man City on Sunday, while Swansea would have to beat Stoke, and there would also have to be a 10 goal swing in terms of goal difference if they’re going to go down.

After the game, Mark Hughes faced the Sky Sports cameras…

On his thoughts at the final whistle…

Well, I think I probably showed it [my emotions] in my behaviour! It was a huge effort by everybody. It’s not just this evening. Ever since we took on the challenge, myself and my staff, we found a group of guys that just needed a little bit of direction, a little bit more belief in what they were doing and I have to say, to a man, they’ve worked their socks off, every single day, in every single game. Some games we’ve had some things go against us and we’ve had to pick ourselves up but I thought they were immense today, and just weren’t going to be denied. I’m really delighted for them, for the club, clearly relegation from the Premier League is a huge negative for any club that finds themselves in that situation. It’s not done mathematically yet, but we’ve put ourselves in a wonderful position.

On if he always planned to bring Manolo Gabbiadini or, or if was just because of the injury to Jan Bednarek…

No, we were going to have to go for it, and there was always going to come a point where we were going to take one of the centre halves off if we were behind in the game or if we needed to get the three points so it was always my intention. He has come on and he has reacted like a striker does. He’s been unlucky in terms of the opportunities I’ve been able to give him, but he’s always worked exceptionally hard in training and he’s been always focused and that’s what I’ve had when I’ve introduced players. More often than not, they make an impact, and that’s what you want from your bench.

On how Bednarek is…

Yeah, he’s bouncing around the dressing room as we speak, so he’s OK. He’ll have a sore head but he’s OK.

On how he has managed to turn Southampton’s fortunes around…

As I said at the beginning, it was just a case that we went in – you’re never quite sure what you’re going to find – we had eight games to go and if you looked at the fixtures we had, they were really, really difficult, we’ve only had two games out of four or five games away from home, so it was always going to be hard for us. We were in a predicament and we needed people to step up and show that they wanted to keep the club in the Premier League and that’s what they have done. I’m really proud of them.

On what it was like on the touchline tonight…

Yeah [it was unbearable] but that’s why we do this job, those moments, and unfortunately you probably have more downs than ups in this job, certainly, I probably have, but when you get moments like this you need to enjoy them too.

If he felt like his reputation was on the line when he took the job…

Well, I said when I took it on it was never about me or my position or my reputation. It was only ever about trying to come in and help a club that I played for and have empathy with and I just wanted to come in and help them and try and keep them in the Premier League. Hopefully, we’ve done that.

If the worry is that City will demolish them and they could still go down…

Listen, we’ve put ourselves in the position that we wanted to be in going into that game. Absolutely, until it’s mathematically sure, we have to do the right thing. We’ll be ready to go again on Sunday and hopefully put it to bed.

A point from their game with Man City at St. Mary’s on Sunday will guarantee their safety, but they’re more than likely safe anyway. I think Mark Hughes has to take huge credit, as Southampton have looked a different team since he came in. They have had a lot more about them in recent weeks, and even if results didn’t always go their way, they looked a lot more competitive.

Attention now turns to Huddersfield and Swansea. The Terriers will guarantee their safety with just one more point, but if they lose against Chelsea tomorrow and against Arsenal on Sunday, they will go down and Swansea will stay up if the Swans manage to beat Stoke on Sunday.

Southampton’s win also means that West Brom have been relegated to the Championship.

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