HomeChampionshipLeeds v Southampton: Martin 'overwhelmed' by Championship play-off final 2024

Leeds v Southampton: Martin ‘overwhelmed’ by Championship play-off final 2024

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Southampton manager Russell Martin has said he “wasn’t an exciting appointment” at the start of a season which ended with him leading the club to an “emotional” Championship play-off final 2024 win over Leeds United.

Adam Armstrong made it three goals in three matches against Leeds this season to give Saints victory with a 24th-minute strike as they returned to the Premier League at the first attempt with a 1-0 victory at Wembley Stadium.

“I feel really emotional and overwhelmed by the support I have had over the last nine or 10 months, especially in the tough times,” Martin told Sky Sports.

“For them to give me the job in the first place, I felt like I had to do this to justify and validate it.”

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In his first season in charge, Martin has been praised for the heavily possession-based style his team has adopted but faced criticism over their occasional inability to find accompanying ruthlessness.

Similar suggestions were made about his Swansea City side who fell short of the play-offs in 2022/23, and Martin was also unable to lift MK Dons higher than a lower-half finish in the third tier despite their reputation for eye-catching football.

Leeds v Southampton: Saints promoted

“I’m so pleased for them because it wasn’t an exciting appointment for them,” Martin said of Southampton.

“I finished 10th at Swansea and had a really clear way of doing things at MK, and now here.

“So to take me on was really brave. The team have been so great and I’m really grateful and proud of them.”

Martin’s squad finished fourth during the regular season and survived a scare when Daniel James hit the bar with six minutes remaining to see off Leeds, the team who ended immediately above them in the table.

The 38-year-old was keen to defer to his players in the immediate aftermath of his first promotion as a coach.

“It’s not about me now – it’s about them,” Martin said. “I really believe that. They were trying to drag me up there [to lift the trophy] but they deserve it.”

Ben Miller
Ben Miller
Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.

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