Ralph Hasenhüttl has hopes of recording a top 10 finish this season, as Southampton prepare to launch their 2021/22 Premier League campaign at Everton on Saturday.
Sitting comfortably in the top half of the table until the turn of the year last season, the Saints boss is looking for a consistent continuation of that form having felt the benefit of a full pre-season programme.
Speaking ahead of the opening day trip to Goodison Park, he said: “I think everybody knows that last season we had a time when we were a top 10 club in the league.
“If this is possible again, we will see, but the target is a reachable one. When you perform well, you can try to reach this target and this must be the goal for everybody.
“The break was very important for recharging batteries after the long, long, long season,” Hasenhüttl continued. “Now we’ve had six weeks with tough sessions physically, and also a few games that have given us a little bit of feedback as to where we are with our game.
“Defensive balance, especially deep defending was a big topic in pre-season and that also includes behaviours on the ball.
“We conceded a lot of goals last season after losing balls after quick transitions, so defending of quick transitions was another topic.
“In the end, our squad is big this season, bigger than last season, and they’re really willing to work hard and step into a tough season now.”
Boosted by four summer arrivals ahead of the weekend’s curtain raiser, the Saints boss is pleased with the balance in his side and hopes to address the club’s disappointing recent opening day record.
“We have definitely got a good balance of experience and young lads who want to work hard,” Hasenhüttl explained. “The most important thing is that we are willing to learn, willing to work and willing to run on the pitch and show up in the league games.
“Getting more balanced and defensively better organised was another big goal for pre-season, and the new players to work and tell them about our philosophy was also important.
“We’re in good shape physically and it’s important for us to have a first stress-test if you like, and hopefully get a good result immediately.
“It’s ages ago since Southampton won their first game in the Premier League, so it’s time to turn the tables around.”