SOUTHAMPTON boss Mauricio Pochettino rang the changes off the pitch, as well as on it – sending his assistant Jesus Perez up to face the Press after his side’s 2-1 Capital One Cup defeat at the Stadium of Light last night.
Perez proved to be an able deputy – straight down the line, effortlessly diplomatic and happy to explain why the Saints made TEN changes to their usual league line-up.
“We have a big squad and we need to use all the players and give them minutes in games like this because the season is so long and, in the next month, we have an awful lot of games,” he said.
“The long season means we have to rest players when we can and also give others a chance to get sharp.
“That’s why we made the selection we did and we had hopes that we would progress, but it wasn’t to be.
“It’s disappointing, but this is football and we have to move forward.”
Perez thought Southampton played well enough to get something out of a fourth-round tie which was evenly balanced for long spells.
“We are a little bit disappointed,” he admitted.
“We are knocked out of the cup and that is a shame for us because we saw this as an opportunity.
“We thought we deserved more from the game, but we have nothing to say against Sunderland, who were positive, tried to win the game and deserved to remain in the competition.”
The deputy manager did see one positive in the south coast side’s long journey to the North East.
“The young players involved in the game will have learned a lot from playing in a ground like the Stadium of Light and against good players in front of a passionate crowd,” he said.
“it will be good for the future.
“I thought Harrison Reed played well in his first start for the club. We are very happy for him and for players like Sam Gallagher.
We have some young and passionate players like them and we are happy for them to get their chance.”