Russell Martin: Southampton boss understated yet inspirational as he leads club back into Premier League

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Adam Armstrong strike sends Saints back to the Premier League; Russell Martin’s approach worked a charm at Wembley as Leeds were stifled by a masterclass of defensive unity.

“I’m so pleased for them because it wasn’t an exciting appointment. I finished 10th with Swansea!”

Those were the words of Russell Martin after he steered Southampton to play-off glory at Wembley, validating the decision to give him the job from the Saints hierarchy.

He wasn’t an appointment that would have inspired a beleaguered fan base following a dismal Premier League relegation. Let’s face it, he wasn’t exactly Vincent Kompany as a player, and hadn’t exactly experienced significant glory as a manager.

As he referenced, Swansea, despite gaining huge plaudits for their style, finished meandering in mid-table. His football could entertain but could it also win? That was the question.

Then there was the turbulent summer. Players departed, including captain James Ward-Prowse – who even featured on the first day of the season – while up until Deadline Day there were question marks over the futures of several key players.

It started well enough, but a nightmare run in September made some observers wonder whether the job was too big for him, and whether his philosophy wasn’t working.

Martin loves to pass, he loves control and adores possession. It was his style that brought him to St Mary’s. And it was a style that took a while to gel.

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