MAURICIO PELLEGRINO might be struggling to keep hold of star defender Virgil Van Dijk but his biggest problems are at the other end of the pitch.
Claude Puel was given the push after a dismal end to last season, when his team managed just one win and four goals from their last eight games.
It meant new boss Pellegrino launched his Southampton career looking to avoid an unwanted club record of six successive home games without scoring.
It was a drought which could have been ended in the first minute when Manolo Gabbiadini clipped the bar with a near post header from Ryan Bertrand’s corner.
They carved out an even clearer opportunity three minutes later when Bertrand got round the back to tee up Dusan Tadic, who inexplicably sidefooted wide from two yards out.
Swansea looked like an accident waiting to happen every time the ball went into their half but could have snatched the lead with their first attack.
Jordan Ayew’s hanging cross from the right allowed Tammy Abraham to get ahead of centre-half Jack Stephens but the teenaged striker on loan from Chelsea headed wide.
Pellegrini resisted the temptation to start with Mario Lemina, the striker signed from Juventus in a club record £18.1million deal earlier in the week.
But it’s a fair bet that the Gabon international will soon be a permanent fixture in the Saints team if this is the best that his new team-mates can do.
Swansea, without the injured Fernando LLorente and the unsettled Gylfi Sigurdsson looked even more toothless.
That absent due were responsible for more half of all their team’s goals last season and if Sigurdsson finally gets his dream move to Everton, Paul Clement’s first priority will be sign a new playmaker before the transfer window closes.
At least Clement could take heart from Abraham’s first Premier League start, with the 19-year-old leading the line willingly despite the lack of support he needed to seriously trouble Southampton.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Today’s opening game was Mauricio Pellegrino’s first competitive game in charge of Southampton.
Swansea loan signing Tammy Abraham – who has only two previous Premier League games to his
name, both as a substitute for Chelsea – was the top scoring teenager in the Football League last
season, netting 23 goals for Bristol City in the Championship.
- Southampton have won six of their last eight meetings with Swansea in the Premier League.
- Swansea’s only win at St Mary’s in the Premier League came in February 2015, with Jonjo Shelvey
scoring the winner that day.
- The Swans have failed to score in six of their 10 Premier League contests against Southampton.
- Southampton have never won an opening day home fixture in the Premier League.
- Swansea are unbeaten in their last three Premier League games to start the season.
WHAT THEY SAID
Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino said: “We did everything to win the game but we couldn’t. We controlled the ball, created chances but this is football – you have to get goals and we couldn’t do so.
“As a manager, we can work on how to create chances but sometimes it is really difficult to score – we had 29 shots.
“Swansea is a good team, they were ready to attack us but we were well balanced and that was the key to controlling the game in the second half. For us it is best to keep going, keep training and we have another game on Saturday
“I think we have quality and spirit in the team.”
Swansea boss Paul Clement said: “It was a hard afternoon, they had a massive amount of chances, set-play after set-play and we suffered at times.
“I’m happy we ended up with a point and it could have been a lot worse. The last-gasp defending was good but we didn’t use the ball well enough further up the pitch.
“We are pleased we have got out of here with a draw. Every game we play we have to try to get points on the board and look to play better. I’m sure they will be disappointed and think ‘how have we not won’.”
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
Southampton: Forster 6, Soares 6, Stephens 6, Yoshida 7, Bertrand 7, Davis 7, Romeu 7, Ward-Prowse 7, Tadic 7, Redmond 6, Gabbiadini 6, McQueen 6, Boufal 6, Austin 6
Subs not used: Long, Lemina, Taylor, Bednarek
Swansea City: Fabianski 7, Naughton 7, Fernandez 7, Mawson 7, Olsson 6, Fer 7, Britton 6, Carroll 6, Abraham 6, Routledge 6, J Ayew 6, McBurnie 6, Fulton 5, Bartley 6
Subs not used: Narsingh, Nordfeldt, Rangel, Mesa
REFEREE: Mike Jones
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