Ronald Koeman believes his side’s cards have been marked as they look to force their way back into the top four at West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.
Southampton travel to the Hawthorns on Saturday aiming to bounce back from last Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool at St Mary’s, which saw them miss out on the chance to move up into third spot in the Barclays Premier League.
And Saints boss Koeman believes teams are now fully aware of the threat posed by his Europe-chasing team, and expects Tony Pulis’ 14th-placed Baggies – who are unbeaten in their last four outings – to give Southampton another testing afternoon in the Midlands.
“I watched back the game of Liverpool, and most of the time Liverpool were not defending with three centre-backs, they were defending with five at the back, and that’s more difficult,” he explained.
“Teams are now playing not so open – they know our qualities and this Saturday will be exactly the same. They go back, they are defending and they will wait for one or two good counter attack moments to score and to try to score with set-pieces, the quality of them, and that makes it more difficult.”
Southampton have plundered just one goal in their last their last four games, though that strike was a vital one as Sadio Mané snatched the winner against QPR at Loftus Road.
Koeman, however, is undeterred by that statistic, and reckons the key to ending the drought is patience and confidence – two things he’s been working on at Saints’ training base this week.
“Of course, we have maybe a little bit more struggling in scoring, but still I think we were creating good chances in all the games what we had,” he said.
“It’s close, it’s not far away. They need a goal and they need the confidence, but as a manager you try to speak about that and to do sessions for giving them that confidence.
“You have to be more patient, you have to wait, to really understand that in the last pass you need really need the focus, the confidence to play the right ball and if you get a chance, sometimes we try to do it on a nice way to score – no, it’s not about how you score, it’s about the ball needing to go in. Maybe we need a little bit more of that effective mentality now to change that situation.”