Mark Hughes praised his players for refusing to be next in line on the list of Wigan’s victims, as Southampton ended the League One club’s fairy tale Emirates FA Cup run with a 2-0 win at the DW Stadium.
First goals for the club from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Cédric secured victory in Hughes’s first game in charge and a Wembley semi-final for Saints, who also missed a second-half penalty through Manolo Gabbiadini.
“I was delighted, I have to say,” said Hughes of the performance.
“It was a difficult fixture for us against a Wigan side whose manager and staff deserve huge credit for the way they set up and their philosophy of how they want to play.
“This year they’ve gone up against other top Premier League clubs and overcome them, so we were the next in line, apparently, but we weren’t prepared to play that game.
“We had to match their intensity and endeavour – that’s what lower league teams will always have in abundance.
“If you don’t match that, sometimes you can come unstuck, but as a consequence of matching their endeavour, we were able to show the level of quality we have above them.
“That’s eventually what’s taken the game away from them, so I’m delighted, because it wasn’t easy for us leading up to the game with a lot of change at the club.
“The players could’ve found that difficult to deal with, but they’ve been first class since I walked through the door. It’s a good start for us, but that’s all it is, so we have to build on this now.”
The new boss started with two strikers, as Gabbiadini partnered Guido Carrillo in attack.
“I think we just needed that threat from runs in behind and that energy up front,” added Hughes. “Both of them worked their socks off – in and out of possession.
“We’re going to need everyone. Everyone’s going to play their part, but those two up front did their claims no harm whatsoever.
“We’ve got to keep that energy high and confidence high, because clearly that’s in a better place now, so we need to continue in the same vein in the Premier League.”