Mauricio Pochettino’s first match as manager of Southampton ended in a goalless draw at home to Everton at St Mary’s on Monday.
The result moved Southampton four points clear of the bottom three in the English Premier League and left Everton three points adrift of the top four and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
“I just want to thank the players, they’ve been very good to me in the three days I have been working with them and the supporters have been very good to me.” former Argentina international Pochettino, speaking through an interpreter, told Sky Sports.
“The only shame was we didn’t score any goals, but we were facing a very good side in Everton, they are fifth in the league. We just needed that bit more luck. I really enjoyed the game. Once you are in it, you realize what an amazing league it [Premier League] is,” he said.
Pochettino was appointed after Southampton, once a byword for managerial stability, sacked Nigel Adkins on Friday just two days after the Englishman had overseen a draw away to European champions Chelsea.
Adkins joined Southampton from Scunthorpe in 2010 and took the Saints, then a third-tier club, into the Premier League with back-to-back promotions.
His exit as manager came with Southampton, who struggled at the start of the season, in the middle of an encouraging run of results which had seen them lose just twice in their past 12 league matches.
Pochettino was brought in by Southampton executive chairman Nicola Cortese, despite having been sacked by RCD Espanyol in November last year with the Spanish side bottom of La Liga.
The Saints dominated the first half, but failed to score.
Jason Puncheon’s low shot was deflected just wide of the post, before Gaston Ramirez forced a smart save from Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 13th minute.
Rickie Lambert beat Howard with a long-range free-kick, only for the ball to hit the goalkeeper’s right post and later on the striker’s header was cleared off the line by Nikica Jelavic and Leighton Baines.
Lambert then powered another header just wide.
Everton came into the match in the second half, with Marouane Fellaini twice denied by Saints goalkeeper Artur Boruc in quick succession.
Toffees substitute Victor Anichebe made his presence felt after replacing the injured Seamus Coleman just before the hour.
Anichebe powered through the Saints defense and squared the ball to Jelavic, only for the Croatian to miss his kick from close range.
Nigerian forward Anichebe was then denied from close range by a fine one-handed save from Boruc.
“I was frustrated with how we played and frustrated in the second half that we did not get the goal,” said Everton manager David Moyes, the third-longest serving manager in the Premier League, who should celebrate 11 years in charge in March. “Southampton have played well in recent weeks and they continued that form. We got better in the second half. In the end, they had the better of the first half and we probably had the better of the second. Their team has done well and Nigel Adkins [has done] really well. His players did well against Chelsea and they did well tonight. They are not a bad side are Southampton.”