Claude Puel unhappy with sparse Saints schedule

By dsguser
02 March 2017

Claude Puel has lamented a "crazy" schedule for Southampton that features just two matches in four weeks.

The Saints boss insists his coaches will face a tough challenge keeping the players fit and focused during a desperately quiet March.

Southampton already face six matches in April, with Premier League games against Manchester United and Arsenal yet to be rearranged.

Saints take on Watford on Saturday with Frenchman Puel demanding his side shake off any lingering malaise from last weekend's 3-2 EFL Cup final loss to United.

"My biggest job now is to prepare the team for the difficulty of the calendar," said Puel.

"We will play two games in a month after playing every three days since the beginning of the season.

"It's crazy - crazy for us and difficult.

"It's difficult to keep good focus and concentration with a game every two weeks.

"That's why this game is so important for us, and for the table.

"You saw when we couldn't play against Arsenal we lost two places in the table.

"After Watford we cannot play against Manchester United, and everyone else gets to play.

"We've got to play against teams who play one game a week.

"All these are difficulties, they are good challenges, and we have to adapt to these conditions of the calendar."

Puel admitted Saints' two-week break ahead of the cup final provided a boost as he could organise a training camp in Spain.

But the former Nice boss insisted he cannot pull the same trick again, as he battles to keep all his players match fit.

"It is difficult. When we have had two weeks before the final it was a good thing because we had played every three days since the beginning of the season," said Puel.

"I could give the players four days off, for the first time this season, and that was fantastic for the staff and the recovery of the players.

"We went on a training camp in Spain and it was fantastic work.

"I said congratulations to all the club staff around the team and for the players also, because they all do fantastic, professional work to prepare for this game and to put the players in the best condition.

"Now it's different. Two weeks is dangerous because to keep good concentration and focus on the training sessions, the good intensity is very difficult.

"We must keep all the attention of the players. We can train but a training session is not an official game. This is difficult.

"We played every three days for Christmas, five days and three games was crazy. Just us.

"Now two weeks every time to prepare for a game is very difficult.

"It is a real challenge for the next game to find a good result in this condition."

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