Southampton boss heeds ex-Leeds United manager advice as he makes Carlos Corberan admission

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Russell Martin’s Southampton take on West Bromwich Albion in the Championship play-off semi-finals this weekend

Southampton boss Russell Martin has thanked former Leeds United manager Neil Warnock for his advice during the final weeks of the regular Championship season. The Saints won their final league fixture of the campaign with a 2-1 win coming against Leeds at Elland Road last Saturday.

However, that result brought an end to a run of three straight losses, with defeats coming against Stoke City, Leicester City and Cardiff City to end the club's hopes of gate crashing the top two and winning automatic promotion back to the Premier League. The manner of the 5-0 loss at eventual champions Leicester certainly set alarm bells ringing, though.

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That result prompted Warnock to urge Martin to take his players out for a bonding session at a Chinese restaurant in order to revitalise the morale within camp and patch up the team spirit. Warnock, who has now officially retired from management after 44 years, issued the advice while working as a pundit, but Martin was listening and take his players out he did.

“I think when someone as wise and as experienced as Neil Warnock tells me to take the team out for a meal I think he’s spot on," the Southampton boss said. “It was a nice meal but it wasn’t a Chinese, it was a little bit healthier than that. I thank him for that advice. He was right that the players, after such an intense schedule, just needed it. The staff too. We were all together with the owners and the executive team here.

Get a personalised Leeds United news round-up, as well as breaking news, when you sign up for our free Leeds United newsletter email. “We worked hard in the morning and had some food. We spent some time together and set the stall out for what’s to come. I think it was good advice and we took it.”

After a touch of team building and the win over Leeds last weekend, Southampton go into the play-offs with their spirits high and their tails up. Carlos Corberan's West Bromwich Albion will be their semi-final opponents, with the first leg being played at The Hawthorns before next week's all-or-nothing encounter, and a place at Wembley Stadium awaits the winner.

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Martin’s side beat West Brom twice over the course of the Championship campaign, but the Baggies enter the play-offs with belief and confidence on the back of a win, too, and they’ll be doing all they can to upset the odds and move to within 90 minutes of the Premier League themselves.

"Everyone has spoken about the top four and how difficult that race was," Martin added. “West Brom have been the best of the rest in the league and gave us two really two tough games.

“Carlos is a really brilliant coach and they have experienced Premier League and Championship players – physical, strong and powerful. They can do both sides of the game with and without the ball. So it’s a tough game, but if you get into the play-offs in the Championship you can’t expect anything else. We played brilliantly there this season and if we can reach those levels of performance again, I’ll be very happy.”