Former Saints midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin spoke of his time at the club, calling it his “happiest years”, with two men specifically praising him.
The Frenchman played for St Mary’s from 2008 to 2015, making 261 appearances as the club moved from League One to the Premier League.
Former Strasbourg player Schneiderlin eventually joined Manchester United in a deal worth around £30m, but left Old Trafford just 18 months later.
Schneiderlin, who now plays for Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers with 15 caps, admits he enjoyed playing for Saints but also regrets leaving United so soon after moving to Everton.
In a new interview with the Daily Mail, he said: “(Those were) my happiest years. Southampton was family. Many clubs say: “We are a family.” But for most, this is nonsense.
The article reveals that former Saints first-team coach Dean Wilkins told Schneiderlin that his rich potential would remain untapped without fitness and aggression.
“I hired a personal manager and my own fitness trainer,” says Schneiderlin. “And during training, I didn’t concentrate on my passing. I didn’t care that I lost the ball, I just wanted the ball back. Many thanks to Dean Wilkins.
Of all his former high-ranking bosses, Schneiderlin pays tribute to Mauricio Pochettino, who has led the Saints for 16 months since January 2013.
Schneiderlin apologizes for a tweet from the summer of 2014 when he was campaigning for a move to the Argentine following a move to Tottenham Hotspur.
“6 years of amazing travel #saintsfc DESTROYED in 1 hour!!!” wrote Schneiderlin.
Schneiderlin motivated this decision by adding: “To make a transfer possible, sometimes you say things and don’t think.
“I loved Mauricio as a person and as a coach. He did not speak English, but from the first training it was clear what he wanted.
“He has instilled confidence in every player and the level of everyone has risen. His communication was top notch and for me he is the best. When I played for him, I felt free and ready to give my life for him on the field.
Schneiderlin, who was described by a Daily Echo source as a fantastic figure outside the dressing room during his time at St Mary’s, regrets staying at United.
The Frenchman made just 47 appearances and scored his only goal in a 3-0 away win at his next club, Everton. Schneiderlin was also an unused substitute in the successful FA Cup Final under Louis van Gaal in 2016.
“I was too much influenced by what Louis van Gaal asked me to do,” Schneiderlin admits, explaining his shortcomings. “I lost myself as a player. It wasn’t me on the field.
“It wasn’t just the manager’s fault, it was my fault. My role was not the one I had in Southampton. I felt limited in my game. I felt that they wanted to change something in me. I didn’t think about myself, I thought about what the coach liked.
“When you get to this point, you stop free play with every pass, with everything you do. Something kept me from being who I was. I wanted to do this so badly and it’s one of the most frustrating things.
“But I regret leaving Manchester United so early. I should have thought, ‘You’ve worked for this all your life, spent seven years at Southampton to go from League One to the best player in the Premier League.’ Stay and you’ll be fine.
Author: Alfie’s house