Southampton boss shares Leeds United 'joke' amid Championship promotion race admission

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Leeds United were second in the Championship on Friday night but Southampton's win at Rotherham saw them back into the automatic places.

Southampton manager Russell Martin is relishing the 'never been seen' before Championship promotion race - and even shared a pre-match joke about the form of his rivals before beating Rotherham on Saturday.

Southampton reclaimed second spot in the table from Leeds United after beating the Millers 2-0, with goals from Jan Bednarek and Adam Armstrong ending the contest before half-time. Leeds had jumped into the automatic promotion spots briefly after beating Bristol city 1-0 on Friday evening, albeit they had played two games more than the Saints and Ipswich Town.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That victory at Ashton Gate, courtesy of Wilfried Gnonto's clinical finish, saw Southampton drop to fourth despite enjoying a 20-game unbeaten run, which has since been extended to 21. Martin couldn't quite believe that despite that club-record streak, his side still found themselves in a play-off place - but he is relishing the fight against three top teams.

"We had a joke about it this morning at the breakfast table that we were 20 games unbeaten and fourth in the table," Martin told the Southern Daily Echo after victory over Rotherham was confirmed. "It shows you the competition this year, the level has been outstanding.

"Four teams have done amazing things never been seen in the Championship. It's exciting to be involved in and you either see it as an opportunity or something to back away from and the lads are head-on and enjoying it."

Victory for Southampton did see them go back into the top two at Leeds' expense but Ipswich could leapfrog both with a win over West Brom on Saturday lunchtime, before the other two play at 3pm. The race for automatic promotion looks set to go right down to the wire but Martin, like Daniel Farke and Kieran McKenna before him, isn't focusing on the bigger picture.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I don't even know what team I am going to pick on Tuesday yet so I don't look very far ahead," the Saints boss added. "If the players keep showing the hunger and humility they are showing to play football in a certain way then hopefully we can keep enjoying this feeling.

"It will take us where we want to get to but outside of that I don't really have any control on what the other teams are going to do. We will focus on ourselves and keep learning as much as we possibly can and then see where we end up."

Defeat for Ipswich at Preston North End on Saturday saw them drop valuable points and McKenna's side have won just once in their last eight Championship matches. Leeds host Southampton on the final day of the season in what could be a promotion decider.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.