Hasenhuttl seeks more quality

Ralph Hasenhuttl wants to add some quality to his squad this summer and is keen to ensure Southampton are not involved in another relegation battle.

The former RB Leipzig boss says he has "a very clear picture" of what Saints, who drew 1-1 with Huddersfield Town on the final day of the Premier League campaign, need.

Southampton flirted with relegation for the second season in a row and, although they eventually finished 16th, five points clear of the bottom three, Hasenhuttl is desperate to make sure they are not involved in another struggle to avoid the drop in 2019/20.

The Austrian said: "It is a very clear picture for me now what we are still missing in our game. Maybe we know that we only win games when we have the perfect commitment and shape and work perfect together.

"If there are a few guys not 100 per cent in the right direction then we are struggling always.

"That means we need more quality next season. It will be a difficult summer for sure because we have our limits with transfer fees and things like that but we must be clear that we have to make a few new players in the team.

"We need to create a new spirit and new mentality because we must give a different picture from the first game day. That's the goal and a clear message for the summer and we will work on this."

Southampton are 1/7 not to be relegated next season while Sheffield United can be backed at 6/5.

Romeu expecting Saints progress

Midfielder Oriol Romeu has backed his Southampton side to improve next season, having staved off the threat of relegation from the Premier League.

The Saints were in deep trouble at the turn of the year, but the arrival of new head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl saw a revival in their fortunes, with safety assured by a 3-3 draw with Bournemouth two weeks ago.

And former Chelsea and Barcelona man Romeu believes that there is now a positive feeling around the club which can be built on in the coming months.

He told Sky Sports News: "The beginning of the season was tough and not good enough, so getting there (safety) with two games to go was a great achievement and now we are all looking ahead to next season.

"We felt good the last two months and we feel we can do more and have enough potential to grow as a club.

"I'm pretty sure things will be better, but it's going to be another tough season. The Premier League doesn't give anything away and we need to work really hard to get in a good position."

The South Coast outfit round off their league campaign with a visit from rock-bottom Huddersfield Town on Sunday, with the Saints having won 3-1 when the two sides met in West Yorkshire just before Christmas.

Southampton are 4/11 to win on Sunday and are 13/2 to win the game 2-0, while Shane Long can be backed at 11/8 to score at any time.

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Targett heaps praise on Hasenhuttl

Southampton defender Matt Targett has hailed the impact made by head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl since he took charge of the Saints in December.

The Austrian has guided the South Coast outfit to Premier League safety, having overseen eight wins and seven draws among the 23 games he has been at the helm for.

And Targett, who scored his first goal for the club in the 3-3 draw with Bournemouth, is clear that Hasenhuttl should be taking much of the credit for the Saints pulling them away from relegation trouble.

He told the Daily Echo: "His impact since he came in has been incredible. He has worked us so hard and we have reaped the rewards of it.

"Every player has bought into his style of play, so it's a credit to us and a massive credit to him. It was a fresh start."

Targett also challenged his team to make a strong finish to the campaign, with their final two games seeing them visit West Ham before playing host to Huddersfield Town on the final day of the season.

He added: "It's always nice to finish on a high. We will go for the three points against West Ham away and then try to finish on a high in front of our fans."

Having lost 2-1 at home to the Hammers earlier this season, Saints are 9/1 to suffer a 2-1 reverse at the London Stadium on Saturday, with a 1-1 draw priced at 13/2.

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Saints survival delights Hasenhuttl

Ralph Hasenhuttl believes keeping Southampton in the Premier League is one of the biggest achievements of his managerial career to date.

The 51-year-old has managed to guide Saints to 29 points from 21 games and a 3-3 draw against Bournemouth on Saturday ensured Southampton will be playing top flight football next season.

Hasenhuttl was delighted with the result and feels his players deserve great credit, having found themselves with just nine points from 15 games when he took over at the start of December.

"It was really one of the most difficult jobs for me as a manager to come back with this team," said Hasenhuttl. "Everybody knows after my first game we were five behind Cardiff, with a very tough schedule over Christmas.

"We are very happy, and we have the feeling we deserve these points, because we did a lot for it. This is amazing, I think a bit tired after a very intense, crazy game.

"But happy, very happy, for the club, supporters, players staff, everybody who is with us. And to be safe two games before the end of the season is tremendous, amazing, sensational.

"The training camp in Tenerife after losing my first game at Cardiff (1-0) was a horrible situation. And how we built the belief there, it was really, really hard work and intensive.

"A lot of players showed you can expect much more from them than they had shown in the first part of the season. So I would like to thank the players for believing in that."

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Hasenhuttl calls for final effort

Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl has urged his players to finally ensure their Premier League survival by winning at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.

The Saints are six points clear of the bottom three with three games to play, meaning that they are all but safe, despite conceding a last-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Watford on Tuesday evening.

However, Hasenhuttl refuses to take anything for granted, telling reporters at vicarage Road: "We have 37 points and until we have 40 we do not speak about being safe.

"Now we have a home game against Bournemouth and if you'd told me that we'd have a chance to secure safety in that game when I took over, I'd have taken that.

"I am always positive because I see how our team plays. We have showed we can take points off every opponent."

Southampton are priced at 21/20 to defeat Bournemouth and are 17/2 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline, with a 2-2 draw available at 14/1.

Meanwhile, Hasenhuttl praised striker Shane Long, who netted after less than eight seconds against the Hornets and who has now scored three times in his last four appearances.

The Austrian added: "He was quick, too quick for the centre-back and it was a fantastic start.

"It shows that he can score and it's important for that we play a style that fits him well, because he's very quick."

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Hasenhuttl demands perfection

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has called for a more aggressive attitude from his players when they take on Watford on Tuesday.

Saints are still not safe from relegation after losing 3-1 at Newcastle United on Saturday although they are five points clear of the bottom three before the trip to Vicarage Road.

Hasenhuttl knows it will not be easy to beat a Hornets side that have an FA Cup final against Manchester City to look forward to next month.

"The message must be that a little bit of playing football is not enough for us, so we have to be aggressive again," said the Austrian.

"We have to work harder than we did on Saturday in the first half because otherwise against Watford, a very strong team, it is again a big problem to take something. I think we have the quality to win there or to take a point, but we need a really, really clinical and perfect performance.

"As always, we know that we are flexible and can change the shape sometimes. We showed that again, that we can immediately change the shape and get more comfortable. But preparing for this game, we will have a look at what this opponent demands from us, and then we will decide."

Southampton are 12/5 to win Tuesday's match and 12/1 to beat the Hornets 2-1.

Lemina poised to boost Saints

Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina is expected to finally return to action after injury in at least one of the Saints next three games within a week.

The 25-year-old Gabon international has not featured since the turn of the year, undergoing surgery on an abdominal problem late on in January.

However, Saints head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl expects to have the former Juventus man back in the fold for the Premier League trips to Newcastle United and Watford, on Saturday and Tuesday respectively, before Southampton end the week with a visit from Bournemouth.

The Austrian told his club's official website: "Mario made a big step forward in the week. He's trained with the team and looks much better now – that's good for him and good for us.

"We know we have an intense week with three games, so it will be nice if we have one more option in this position.

"I have spoken about it and I am sure he will play (at least) one more game this season. The chances are big because now he is training with the team, so maybe his injury has come to an end."

Saints go into the busy Easter programme of games on the back of a run of form which has seen them win four of their last six Premier League games, a return which has lifted them five points clear of the relegation places.

They can be backed at 11/5 to gain a draw at Newcastle on Saturday, with a 1-1 final scoreline priced at 11/2, while the Magpies are 13/2 to edge a 1-0 victory on home turf.

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Saints close on safety

Ralph Hasenhuttl 'guaranteed' that Southampton will 'do everything we can to get to 40 points' after their 3-1 win over Wolves at St Mary's.

The Saints are closing in on survival after their latest success, now with 36 points and eight clear of Cardiff in the final relegation spot.

Nathan Redmond scored twice and substitute Shane Long scored a third as Southampton capitalised on a lacklustre Wolves side that had thrown away a two-goal lead in losing their FA Cup semi-final to Watford last Sunday.

The 40-point mark has often been a target set by managers to secure Premier League survival and Hasenhuttl has identified that as the place his side need to be.

"We lost here not long ago against Cardiff and it seemed it [battle against relegation] would go right to the end, so we are very happy," he said.

"I can guarantee we will do everything we can to get to 40 points."

Southampton are 21/10 to win their next game at Newcastle, the Magpies currently two points above them in 15th spot. Newcastle are 13/10 on the back of their win over Leicester on Friday, while the draw at St James' Park is 11/5.

Nuno Espirito Santo meanwhile admitted that Wolves simply were not good enough defensively.

"Our defensive structure was not the best – it is something that we have to look at," he said.

"After we conceded the opener we controlled the game well and made chances until we drew level. We then went behind and were not able to stand up again and the second half was poor.

"We left too many spaces and we allowed them to play. Today they were better than us and we have to regroup and bounce back immediately."

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Hasenhuttl calls for Saints focus

Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl has warned his in-form side not to take anything for granted as they bid to secure their Premier League future.

Three wins in four games have lifted the Saints five points clear of the drop zone, but their next assignment is a tough one, with title-chasing Liverpool the visitors to St Mary's on Friday evening.

And Hasenhuttl told reporters at his pre-match press briefing: "It would be dangerous to think we are already safe and I can guarantee you that we don't.

"We know how tough it was so far to get the right points at the right moments and there are still a lot of points to get, so we must stay focused. It's still a long way to go."

Southampton were beaten 3-0 by the Reds at Anfield earlier this season and Liverpool are 2/5 to win again on Friday, with the draw priced at 4/1 and a 1-1 final scoreline available at 9/1.

Meanwhile, Hasenhuttl remains hopeful that midfielder Mario Lemina will return to action before the season draws to a close, with the Gabon midfielder having not featured since the turn of the year due to an abdominal injury which required surgery.

He added: "It's a pity that Mario is not back in training again because he still has problems.

"We are trying to bring him back to the right level step by step, but it isn't easy when he has had such a long time without playing.

"We will definitely see him again before the end of the season."

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Hasenhuttl calls for Saints focus

Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl has warned his in-form side not to take anything for granted as they bid to secure their Premier League future.

Three wins in four games have lifted the Saints five points clear of the drop zone, but their next assignment is a tough one, with title-chasing Liverpool the visitors to St Mary's on Friday evening.

And Hasenhuttl told reporters at his pre-match press briefing: "It would be dangerous to think we are already safe and I can guarantee you that we don't.

"We know how tough it was so far to get the right points at the right moments and there are still a lot of points to get, so we must stay focused. It's still a long way to go."

Southampton were beaten 3-0 by the Reds at Anfield earlier this season and Liverpool are 2/5 to win again on Friday, with the draw priced at 4/1 and a 1-1 final scoreline available at 9/1.

Meanwhile, Hasenhuttl remains hopeful that midfielder Mario Lemina will return to action before the season draws to a close, with the Gabon midfielder having not featured since the turn of the year due to an abdominal injury which required surgery.

He added: "It's a pity that Mario is not back in training again because he still has problems.

"We are trying to bring him back to the right level step by step, but it isn't easy when he has had such a long time without playing.

"We will definitely see him again before the end of the season."

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