Nathan Jones dismissed any suggestion there was less pressure on relegation-battling Southampton ahead of their FA Cup clash with Blackpool, saying there would have been “carnage” had they lost to the Championship strugglers.
Romain Perraud scored in either half to secure a 2-1 win over Mick McCarthy’s Seasiders and ensure Saints remain in the hat, one victory away from their fourth trip to the quarter-finals in six seasons.
Southampton’s continued cup success is in direct contrast to their Premier League form, with Jones’ side languishing at the foot of the table, but he was quick to contradict any notion that the cup clash was less challenging than the fight to avoid the drop.
He said: “I don’t think there is less pressure. Obviously it’s a different pressure, because the Premier League is bread-and-butter, it’s the most important thing, but today there’s pressure because if we lost the furore would be carnage. It’s really important.
“And then it’s a different kind of pressure on us today because we are expected to dominate, to win comfortably. And that’s not football. That’s not FA Cup, and it’s not against Mick McCarthy’s team.”
Jones was forced to field a “disjointed team” in a crowded fixture week, with his side playing their second cup clash in five days after losing the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final 1-0 to Newcastle on Tuesday.
That meant making eight changes ahead of Saturday’s contest, which Jones was pleased to have won but acknowledged it did not take the sting out of their top-flight position.
“Look, it’s difficult,” he said. “I would rather be on a 50 per cent win ratio at the minute here, but I would prefer all those wins, with the greatest respect, to have been in the Premier League.
“We’ve got a real good adventure in the Carabao Cup, we’ve got one game to get to Wembley, we’re still in the FA Cup, what we have to do is then just improve our points ratio because our performances have been there in the Premier League, and we have created, and we’re improving our performances.
“It’s just we have to turn those into results because that’s the be-all and end-all.”
Saturday’s contest also marked McCarthy’s first match in the Blackpool manager’s chair following his appointment last week.
While McCarthy’s men were ultimately defeated by their superior opposition, Southampton’s defensive lapse allowed Charlie Patino to claw a goal back in the second half.
The new Seasiders boss inherits his own relegation battle, with Blackpool sitting one from bottom in the Championship, and revealed he had been in touch with his opposite number ahead of Saturday’s cup clash.
McCarthy, who appeared to exchange kind words with Jones after the match, said: “I’ve sent him a few messages recently because of the results he’s had, and that’s the reason why, because I like him. I respect him, and I think he’s a really good coach. I was delighted when he got this job, and I hope he keeps them up. For him. I have no affiliation to Southampton or 91 other teams for that matter while I’m at Blackpool.
“But for him I hope he does it because he proved his worth. He got the Stoke job, then back to Luton, dragged them out of poverty almost and nearly got them promoted and left a great squad for Rob Edwards now.
“That’s why the moment. Not because the two of us are in the s**t.”
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