Premier League the focus for under-fire Nathan Jones despite FA Cup progress

Southampton manager Nathan Jones (Getty Images)
Southampton manager Nathan Jones (Getty Images)

Nathan Jones acknowledged he has limited time to turn things around at Southampton despite Saints advancing to the FA Cup fourth round with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.

Saturday’s victory at Selhurst Park was a welcome boost for Jones’ side, who sit bottom of the Premier League with just three wins from 18 contests.

Jones, who was appointed in November, was pleased to see his Carabao Cup quarter-finalists stay alive in another cup competition, but underlined his priority remains ensuring Saints’ survival in the top flight.

He said: “Look, the be-all and end-all is making sure that we are a Premier League team first and foremost. Any cup run is a bonus.

“Now we’ve got the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup (against Manchester City) on Wednesday where we come up against one of the world’s best teams and then obviously we’re in the that for the fourth round (of the FA Cup) so it’s a packed, hectic schedule.

“But we’ll have games and rhythm and [it] will breed a bit more continuity and hopefully a bit more confidence, and once we can do that, then look we can start to show that we’re a really good team.”

Jones’ side conceded the 14th-minute opener in south London when Odsonne Edouard finished past Gavin Bazunu.

But they benefitted by some poor defending by last season’s FA Cup semi-finalists, who first let in James Ward-Prowse’s free kick to draw things square before the halfway point.

Adam Armstrong then pounced on keeper Vicente Guaita’s second-half gaffe to fire the winner into an empty net.

Saints have already made their first move of the January transfer window on Friday, balancing the club’s youth by bringing in 30-year-old attacking midfielder Mislav Orsic, who netted the winner to seal Croatia third place at the World Cup.

Southampton fans may have to wait to see the new signing from Dinamo Zagreb after Jones hinted he is unlikely to feature on Wednesday at St Mary’s as he adjusts to his new surroundings.

“It might be a little bit soon,” said Jones. “With the greatest of respect the intensity of a Premier League game or a game against Man City is slightly different from what he would be used to there.

“So we have to be very careful with him because the last thing we want to do is push him early and then he breaks down and then we don’t see him. So we have to build these players as we have.”

Patrick Vieira is still looking to make his first signing of the New Year after backup goalkeeper Jack Butland signed on loan with Manchester United on Friday.

Like Jones, he has acknowledged a need to ideally bring more maturity to Selhurst Park, whether through the ongoing development or his young squad or elsewhere.

Asked if he was specifically targeting leaders in the transfer window, however, he simply stated: “What is important for us it to try to improve the squad, knowing what we are missing and trying to find those players who can improve the squad.”