Mauricio Pochettino says his players have learned a lot this season, but rued a lack of killer touch after the final game of the campaign.
Despite dominating opponents Stoke City for long spells of a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s, the team were grateful to Rickie Lambert for converting his 15th goal of the year, having fallen behind just after half time to a strike from Peter Crouch.
Only the fine form of Asmir Begovic prevented Pochettino’s men from winning the game, as Jay Rodriguez and Jason Puncheon were each denied by the Bosnian goalkeeper, whilst Emmanuel Mayuka fired wide late on.
However, the gaffer feels there is work to be done in front of goal after a six game winless run at the end of the season.
“I’m very happy for the supporters and it was nice to see their tribute for the players, but I am a little bit sad and disappointed that we didn’t win today,” Pochettino told Saints Player.
“I think we have been superior in the last six games that we have played, but we just haven’t been able to close out games which is why our performances may not have looked as good as they should have been. We have lacked that final touch in order to close down and get wins.
“It is a great learning curve for the 99% of players that are with us at this Club. We are fully aware that the last ten games in any big league such as the Premier League or any European league are full of emotional charge.
“We have had to perform very well in these last ten games but perhaps we were lacking a little bit of mental strength in those games. Overall I think we have played well and performed well in these last ten games.”
The manager is delighted that Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese is staying at the club, and predicts that the squad will come back even stronger after the summer.
“The best news is that Nicola will be with us next season,” he said. “That is very good news for the squad and the Club in general.
“I think our first goal has been achieved by remaining in the Premier League and being there next season,” the gaffer continued.
“We want to maintain the core of our squad because next year they will be a lot more settled because they will have had a year in this league under their belts.
“The players that do join us will hopefully have more strengths and more quality that they can add to the squad that we have here already.”
Immediate attentions will move to the summer break, but Pochettino says there’ll be no switching off on his part.
“No, I never rest! I will always be thinking and working towards next season.”