Hasenhüttl: Return of fans will be emotional


Ralph Hasenhüttl believes it will be an emotional and amazing moment to emerge from the St Mary's tunnel ahead of kick-off against Leeds and see supporters back in the stands once again.

Saints will welcome just under 8,000 fans into St Mary's on Tuesday evening for the Premier League game against Marcelo Bielsa's side, and Hasenhüttl, whose team is looking for a third consecutive win, expects the crowd will make a huge difference.

"I mean 8,000 is not so few," he said. "It is definitely enough to make a good atmosphere I think and hopefully we give them a reason to celebrate and a reason to be loud and to be supporting us.

"It's a completely different game [with fans back]. Automatically for me, it's harder to coach, for the players it's sometimes harder to find the right decision under pressure, but we have played now long enough without fans, so we are all looking forward to having them back, we are all looking forward to having a real football game, and a real football game is always with the fans and it will be an amazing moment to see them, it will be an amazing moment to step out on the pitch.

"To see and hear them and to play in front of them is a very emotional moment I think."

Saints did welcome a small number of fans back to St Mary's last December, when they beat Sheffield United 3-0, but the return was short-lived as further government restrictions in light of the spread of Covid-19 meant a return to empty grounds, which clubs had previously been enduring since football was put on pause in March 2020.

Hasenhüttl admitted it has been a strange experience since then, and is hopeful it is not something that will need to be endured again.

"We are training the whole week without fans, we are playing the whole week of football without fans, and it was a little bit like a training match if you want on the weekends," he said.

"It's obviously not the same, because a Premier League game is always tough, but you hear the same voices like you hear on the training pitch when the players are shouting, when the coaches are shouting.

"So it's important to have them back, that means the atmosphere is automatically there, you don't have to push them from outside. As I said, for my voice it is a little bit more difficult now to bring the messages on the pitch, but we have played long enough without them, so we are happy to have them back."