Steve Bruce believes ‘natural footballer’ Allan Saint-Maximin has bright future
Steve Bruce is certain Allan Saint-Maximin has a “bright future” after his late strike secured a 1-0 win for Newcastle over 10-man Southampton at St Mary’s.
The Magpies had failed to score in their last four top-flight outings and the pressure was increased after Matt Ritchie missed a penalty in the first half.
But Saint-Maximin’s 79th-minute strike ended that goal drought as Newcastle moved eight points clear of the drop zone.
And Bruce is confident there is much more to come from the French forward.
“I’m delighted for him, I’ve said since day one he’s always going to please everybody,” Bruce said.
“If you haven’t seen him play then you’re going to enjoy watching him because he is a natural footballer, which don’t come around too often like that.
“He’s got frightening pace and great balance and got that thing where he wants to beat you and we don’t see that too often anymore.
“It can be a bit frustrating at times and he has to learn, but if he learns he’s got a big, bright future ahead of him.”
Bruce conceded that his side have been struggling in front of goal but was pleased with the manner in which they adapted to the challenge at St Mary’s.
“We haven’t encountered that before, a team dropping off us and letting us have possession of the ball,” he added.
“And then we have to create and that’s the hardest part of what we’ve found all year – creating a chance and taking the chance has been our Achilles heel.
“That’s why we’ve only scored 25 goals, but we couldn’t have asked for any more opportunities in the first half.”
Southampton were reduced to 10 men after Moussa Djenepo, who was returning to the side following the death of his mother, was sent off for a reckless challenge on Isaac Hayden.
“When you know about the last week then you can be sure that it would take a lot of work in the next weeks to lift his head again and bring him back with a smile on his face because at the moment it’s a very difficult time for him,” Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said.
“He can be sure that we as a club will do everything we can to help him, to give him every support we can give him.”
Referee Graham Scott consulted the pitch-side monitor before changing his initial decision from yellow to red, earning the praise of the Southampton manager for his actions.
He said: “It was good that he was walking to the monitor to have a look again, that’s what I was asking for, and this was absolutely OK that he did it.”