Ainsley Maitland-Niles believes the Southampton crowd can help build the character of the club’s young players, and hopes to play his own part in the team’s development.
The England international arrived on a season-long loan from Arsenal on deadline day, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the Premier League and Europe.
Maitland-Niles has faced Saints a number of times as an opponent, racking up 87 Premier League appearances in his career to date, and has experienced the St Mary’s atmosphere first hand.
“They’ve always been a good team,” he said of Saints. “It’s always hard to come to St Mary’s and beat them. The crowd are fantastic when you come here, it’s like having an extra three players on the pitch.
“For that, as a club, that’s amazing to join. It’s amazing just to sit in the stands and see, or be on the pitch and play against it, because that builds a certain character with certain players, and the fight will be magnificent throughout the season.”
On building that character, the 25-year-old explained how he feels he can help the raft of young players in Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first-team squad.
“Just giving advice and guidance,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot throughout my short amount of time playing, so I’ll just put my arm around people who need it and pull people to the side and give someone a dig if they’re not doing the right things, put them on the right path again.
“You’ve got to nip it in the bud early, because then it carries on and people think they can do it for a long time.
“As a matter of fact your career is very short, so you’ve got to try and cut those things out very early.
“I take every experience as a positive, even if something bad happens during that time, because you mature as a person and you grow up – you learn things and you can always share your own experiences with younger players, like I’m coming into this club to do.”