SOUTHAMPTON, England — Mark Hughes booted a water bottle in frustration as Southampton opened the Premier League season with a 0-0 draw against Burnley on Sunday.
“I thought it was a good pass myself,” Hughes joked. “It was a little bit of frustration because I see these players every day and I know the quality they have in close quarters. But I don’t think we were brave enough early on.
“I thought we didn’t really get the intensity I’d asked for at the beginning of the game. Maybe that was apprehension at the beginning of the new season, maybe we were erring on the side of safety. I left it five minutes into the second half, after speaking to them and saying we needed to be on the front foot more. That didn’t change, so then I made personnel changes.”
New signings Danny Ings and Mohamed Elyounoussi added guile and impetus after coming off the bench in the 56th minute at St. Mary’s Stadium
“I thought we were on top for the rest of the second half,” Hughes said. “I’m not rigid to stick to one formation or way of playing. It’s always better to have the ability to change. You’ve got to have the nous, understand what’s happening and make changes to turn it your way.
“We do work on different formations in training. The fact we were able to get a foothold so quickly after making the change is credit to the players.”
Former Southampton midfielder Jack Cork went closest to breaking the deadlock, slotting home early on only to be judged offside in a contentious call. Video assistant referees are not being used in the league.
“It’s very tight,” Burnley manager Sean Dyche said. “I don’t know what VAR would make of that, and I’m a big fan of that. I don’t really know. I’m not crying over that, but you just hope that over the course of the season you get one back.”