Southampton boss Claude Puel insists their midweek Premier League clash against Manchester United should not be billed as a revenge mission for their EFL Cup final agony in February.
Saints welcome Jose Mourinho’s men to St Mary’s on Wednesday in a rematch of their five-goal thriller at Wembley, when the south coast side were unfortunate to be on the losing side.
Southampton have not registered a Premier League home victory over Manchester United since 2003, when James Beattie scored a late winner for Gordon Strachan’s side, while United are currently on a four-game winless run in the league.
With a Europa League final on the horizon, Mourinho could shuffle his pack from the side who suffered a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday. However, Puel dismissed the notion that Wednesday’s encounter presents the ideal time to face the Red Devils.
“No, no it’s just another game,” Puel said.
“It’s been a long time since the (EFL Cup) final against Manchester United, It’s a Premier League game, so we cannot just focus about that game. The game is not revenge because it’s important to keep a good energy and to enjoy our football and just to focus about this, not anything else.
“This team has great players and a strong squad. For example, (Ander) Herrera, (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan, (Paul) Pogba, and (Marcus) Rashford can all play against us because they were rested for the last game.
“In any game, they have a strong team and it will a difficult game against Manchester United and they will play with a good intensity and try and take points off us.”
The future of the former Lyon boss has come under scrutiny despite reaching the EFL Cup final and having the possibility to finish eighth in the Premier League.
Puel, however, would not be drawn into sharing his view on the rumours surrounding his job as Southampton manager, claiming that having one of the youngest squads in the Premier League and producing the results they have achieved should justify the work he has done in his first season.
“I cannot be distracted about the speculation,” the Frenchman added.
“The most important thing is to think about finishing strong in the Premier League. After that, I cannot make comments about speculation.
“I’m on contract, a three-year contract, with a project. I am happy here, with the directors, the staff and the players but the most important to continue to improve.
“There’s no need to give assurances because it matters about what is on the pitch with the quality. It’s the second youngest team in the table and we continue to improve for the future.”