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Claude Puel "surprised" at rumours of Southampton fall-out

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The Frenchman denied reports of pressure from above and poor morale among his squad members

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West Bromwich Albion v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Southampton manager Claude Puel remains positive about his future at the club despite reports of growing unrest among Saints players and the club's hierarchy.

Saints may have reached the EFL Cup final, an unfortunate 3-2 loss to Manchester United, but many Southampton fans aren't happy with Puel's first year in charge—and the club's players are said to reciprocate that sentiment.

The rumours emerged as Saints hit a poor run of form, only picking up one point from a possible nine. In addition, it is now mathematically impossible to match Southampton's points tally from the past two seasons under Ronald Koeman's leadership.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Saints' trip to Liverpool on Sunday, Puel said: "I came here for a project, to continue this work to improve all these young players—many players have become starting players this year, like Maya Yoshida, Oriol Romeu, Jack Stephens; so it's important to continue this role and keep building the future of Southampton.

"I've been surprised to see these reports, because it seems for me it has been an interesting season with many games. There have been European games, cup games, with quality. We reached the [EFL Cup] final at Wembley against Manchester United and we've also improved many players.

"Many players can still improve, so it's been interesting work I think. So it has surprised me to see and read all this speculation in particular."

Saints have already played Liverpool three times this season—winning two and drawing one without a single goal conceded. Puel will be hoping to match those results to help reinvigorate his side on Sunday.