Hasenhüttl's praise for "unbelievable" City


Fresh off an important victory over Sheffield United, Southampton's next challenge sees them visit Manchester City, with Ralph Hasenhüttl explaining his admiration for the Premier League leaders is not only due to the incredible quality they have in their squad but also the way in which they use it.

Saints head to Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening to face a City team that, before Sunday's defeat to Manchester United, had rattled off an incredible run of 21 consecutive victories, across all competitions.

That streak had started in mid-December with a narrow 1-0 win at St Mary's, and Hasenhüttl was full of praise for the job his counterpart Pep Guardiola has done.

"We very often speak about injuries we have," he said. "They had also Kevin De Bruyne out for a long time and they still were unbelievable, so you see how good they work, how much quality is in there.

"Quality means not only that they buy players for a lot of money, but I think quality that you create as a manager, and automatisms you create and behaviours with the ball – they are hard to defend, and they added a defence to their game that did not give a lot of chances for the opponent.

"They are very dominant, they have good counter-pressing. If you want to play football against them you do it under high pressure and finally also in the back four they have so much individual quality that it is tough to score against them, so this is a good combination of being successful and, for me, it is not a coincidence the team did not need fans in the stadium or something else, they are simply good.

"And simply good means that you then have a run like this, because winning games in such a row against opponents all over Europe, this you don't do if you are not strong, and they are strong."

While Southampton may have lost to Raheem Sterling's goal the last time they met, the performance that day, as Saints ran City incredibly close, still ranks among one of the best of the season for Hasenhüttl, who rated it even better than the one his side produced when they beat Guardiola's team 1-0 towards the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

"It definitely was a tough game, I think also for them against us," he said, reflecting on December's meeting. "We did a very good job against them and I was very happy with my team after this game.

"Although we lost, it was a far better game than the 1-0 we won a few months earlier after the lockdown, so this was one of our best games I think so far. That was for us a very important signal."