Nathan Jones reflected on a proud day at Goodison Park as Southampton recorded their first Premier League victory under his leadership against Everton.
It’s been a busy but successful week for Saints, who have claimed their third successive win in the space of just eight days.
“[I’m] really proud,” confessed the boss. “Proud of the football club. Proud of the team. Today we had to really dig in against a really physical side.
“It was really difficult to get any rhythm because of the physicality and they were very, very direct. Pickford kicks it a mile, they’ve got Calvert-Lewin and Onana and everyone around there. They’re a very aggressive side.
“We had to match that, and I thought we did that in spells first half. In the second half I think we had the tempo and I thought we were a lot better for it second half. There’s a few counterattacks either side and I thought if we had a bit more quality we could have extended it.
“It’s a great group and I’m so proud of them. With the greatest of respect, [Everton] had the luxury of not playing in midweek and we’ve had to go through that. We had to chop and change with everything we’ve done. I’m really proud as they had to dig deep, and they had to go through some real physical barriers this week. We’ve had to demand from people."
With squad rotation vital due to the number of games Saints have played this week alone, Jones was quick to highlight the efforts of the whole team to continue their winning streak.
“Sékou Mara has been fantastic, Adam Armstrong they missed out. I might have started a different team if we hadn’t had the Wednesday game, but they’ve all put in magnificent shifts this week to win three in three games against three Premier League sides.
“Bear in mind we haven’t just played anyone this week. We’ve been away at Selhurst Park, we’ve been away at Goodison Park, two really tough places to come and then at home to Man City where you’ve got to be very good without the ball.
“Today, and all week, it’s been a wonderful, wonderful week for this football club and I’m really proud to be leading that.”
One of the key talking points from Saints’ trip to Merseyside is the performance of club captain James Ward-Prowse, who netted a brace to ensure Saints came from behind to claim all three points.
“He’s a special Saint. Let’s use that adjective and that sort of euphemism for him really. He’s a special Saint. He’s a wonderful technician, it’s why he’s the best there is. The energy, the work rate, how he leads the football club, what he does, the humility he shows, how he comes over adversity."
“It was tough not going away with the World Cup, but he’s responded in the most magnificent fashion and I’m really proud of him.
“I could play him anywhere. Tongue in cheek, I could play him in goal, and he’d put in a shift for me and that’s what you’ve got. He doesn’t mind where he plays, he’s big energy, big work rate, real quality and he wants to play for Southampton and those are qualities you need as a manager.
“It’s nice for them. It’s nice for me to win my first Premier League game at, realistically, my fourth time of asking because the Liverpool game I couldn’t really affect too much.
“It’s a big win for us. The travelling fans were magnificent, especially when we gave them something to get behind and at the scenes were very, very pleasing. It was nice to see that and it was nice for me to enjoy a win for a change rather than be a bit subdued. It’s nice to be myself.”