Former Canaries star opens up on struggles at Southampton and rediscovering his Premier League form
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Nathan Redmond is enjoying Premier League football again, after seeing his big-money move from Norwich City to Southampton start to turn sour – in spite of a very public pep talk from Pep Guardiola.
The winger was sold to the Saints in the summer of 2016 in a deal worth around £11million, following City’s relegation from the top flight.
The Birmingham City academy product, who scored 14 goals in 123 games after joining Norwich in 2013, had a decent first season on the south coast when he scored seven goals in 37 Premier League games.
A first England cap was earned during that campaign, playing 24 minutes of a 1-0 friendly loss in Germany in March 2017, but missing the decisive penalty in a semi-final shootout defeat to Germany in the European U21 Championships that summer and a collective struggle at Southampton last season saw Redmond’s form nosedive.
That came to a head in November 2017 when Guardiola launched into a very public dressing down of the former England U21 star after Saints had lost 2-1 at Etihad Stadium as a relegation battle took shape, playing very defensively against the eventual champions – telling Redmond he is capable of much more.
“There’s nothing worse than not being able to get past a certain point, which I thought was never ending,” Redmond reflected, speaking ahead of Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Arsenal.
“I wasn’t doing anything right, I hadn’t scored a goal and was not performing for my team. There were so many things going on and I wasn’t doing anything to change it.
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“I guess I had to go through all of those things to realise how fortunate I am to be playing football. But at the same time I don’t want to end up being somebody who wastes something I’ve been blessed with.”
Southampton fans turned against Redmond in some games, as Mark Hughes managed to keep Saints in the top flight by three points last season.
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That Guardiola pep talk took time to hit home though, leading to spending time with a fitness expert in Los Angeles last summer to be in top condition for this campaign, working alongside Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge and Watford midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah.
“When I was younger there was a lot of expectation and hype – I always believed I was a good player but not always 100 percent,” continued Redmond, who was capped 38 times at U21 level by England.
“If I hadn’t fixed up my head after Pep Guardiola spoke to me and told me what a good player I was … maybe some other players would be like ‘okay I can do this’ but it took me until the summer.
“If one of the best coaches in the world is telling me I’m a good player and I’m still not feeling it, that just proves I had a lot of work to do myself. There were a series of games when I wasn’t in the squad at Southampton, I was training with the under-23s – there was a lot of stuff going on. I was thinking ‘why has this happened to me?’ instead of trying to change and looking at things that were right in front of me.”
However, things have turned since former Red Bull Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhüttl replaced Hughes in December, scoring six goals in the Austrian’s 12 games in charge.
That included playing as a lone striker at Arsenal on Sunday, charging clean through early on at the Emirates, only to be denied by Gunners keeper Leno, just seconds before the hosts took the lead.
“I almost thought I had reached my limitations,” Redmond concluded, speaking to the Guardian. “I came back at the start of the season and I thought I was playing pretty well but then the new manager came in and said: ‘You’ve got no goals and no assists in the league … what’s going on?’.
“We had a review in Tenerife and he’s like: ‘Look at what you’ve done in the space of three months.’ We had a long discussion about everything but I don’t think I’ve ever scored so many goals in my career, so it made me think ‘what if I had been doing this six or seven years ago?’
“That’s what is exciting for me and hopefully I can keep it going.”