Southampton boss Claude Puel hails main man Gabbiadini as more than just a goalscorer

Southampton boss Claude Puel hails main man Gabbiadini as more than just a goalscorer

He may have been the hero of Saints' devastating loss on Sunday, but Puel explains that his play has been more than simply scoring goals.

Charlie Brown

Southampton manager Claude Puel has heaped praise on January signing Manolo Gabbiadini, insisting he does not only bring goals to the team.

After scoring five goals in three games for the Saints since joining from Napoli in a deal worth around £15 million, Gabbiadini has claimed many new admirers - most notably, his coach. 

"He cannot keep scoring two goals in every game," explained the Saints coach, but also said that "it's not just scoring" that the frontman offers.

And Puel is not wrong, as his team have looked more like one recently with Gabbiadini up top.

The Italian clearly knows how to play the lone-striker role, perhaps something that Shane Long, Jay Rodriguez and even top scorer Charlie Austin aren't always capable of doing. 

Manolo's movement

Gabbiadini's movement stands out above anything else when watching him He has shown he is a fantastic finisher, but you don't get into those scoring positions without intelligent anticipation of where the ball will end up or needs to end up. 

In the EFL Cup final for all three of his goals - of which, only two stood - the Italian's ability to beat out an opponent to the cross was so refreshing for Saints fans.

For months and months Southampton and Puel alike have been crying out for a player like this, since Ryan Bertrand, James Ward-Prowse and Cedric Soares are all deadly crossers when called upon. 

The equalising goal that brought mayhem among the Southampton fans underneath the Wembley arch was a product of expectation. A top-quality striker such as Gabbiadini knows exactly where the ball is going to reach him, instead of waiting for the opportunity he grasped it.

Puel described this as him making "good runs" and that "he has good movement in the box" - though his runs weren't on show to the world with Manchester United opting for a deeper defensive shape in the final.

He did however give as many options with runs as possible in the home loss to West Ham United, one of which resulted in an incredible debut goal.

Change of fortune?

It is no secret that the south coast club have struggled with goals this season, but having the potency and presence of Gabbiadini may have already made a shift in fortune for Southampton.

As Puel calls it, "we have found a good clinical edge with him" aswell as his entrance giving a "good confidence to the squad."

It is hard to argue with the former Nice manager. If you take away the blunder at home against the Hammers, Saints have appeared back to their best again.

They looked dominant in the away 4-0 drubbing of Sunderland and of course the unfortunate loss to United last Sunday. In what technically amounts to two away games, the side have scored six goals which seemed incomprehensible early on this year.

On top of a change in forwards, Puel has changed the formation in recent weeks, ditching the 4-3-3 for a more solid and enjoyable 4-4-1-1 with Dusan Tadic just behind Gabbiadini. 

This has given more freedom to people like Nathan Redmond and even the full-backs, as the two further up attackers are skilled at keeping the ball - Saints' wingers are no longer being asked to do the impossible in taking on the world alone. 

Next up for Southampton is a trip to Watford for a Premier League clash that created an interesting opening fixture last time these sides met at St. Mary's Stadium.