Jose Fonte believes Saints proved their doubters wrong at Anfield – even if they did not head home with the three points he felt they deserved.
After a summer of upheaval at St Mary’s, few people had given Ronald Koeman’s men much of a chance at Liverpool.
However, Saints produced a largely excellent performance that, particularly for long spells in the second half, had their opponents on the ropes. In the end, Liverpool triumphed 2-1, but it was a display from Saints that spoke of a team heading towards an encouraging future, rather than – as popular opinion might have had it – plunging deeper into a crisis.
Saints captain Fonte certainly believes there is plenty of cause for encouragement.
“We created the better chances,” he said.
“In the second half I think we came out very strong and, for sure, we deserved the three points, but sometimes it’s like this – you don’t get what you deserve.
“I think everyone was expecting us to come here and maybe get beat by a few, but we showed that we are still strong and we showed that we can compete against anyone, and that’s what we will try to do.”
Fonte added that, for all the talk of a summer “exodus” at Saints and the club being in “meltdown”, the players have never felt a sense of panic or concern.
“We trust ourselves,” said the centre-half. The first thing is that we believe in ourselves.
“I said before, we still have quality enough to have a strong season, and we showed that.
“We came here in the second half and we dominated a team that spent so much money and is going to fight for the title.
“So that gives us a lot of belief and encouragement for the next game and the season.”
Fonte was impressed with Saints’ new signings, with Fraser Forster, Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Shane Long all making their competitive debut for the club.
Tadic, in particular, was one who caught the eye with an exciting and creative performance being capped by his delicious back heel that set up Nathaniel Clyne’s equaliser.
“Dusan did very well, I thought Pelle competed well too,” said Fonte.
“He held the ball up well, he had some great movements and I think we can be happy with the new signings, for sure.”
Fonte admitted, however, that it wasn’t such a pleasurable experience to play against some of his former teammates, with both Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren featuring for Liverpool.
“It wasn’t nice, but that’s life, it’s football,” he said. “During the game we were enemies, but we move on and now outside we can have a chat.”