Mark Hughes has revealed his first words to the Southampton squad following his appointment as manager in March.
The boss was handed the task of keeping Saints in the Premier League with the club precariously positioned towards the foot of the table with eight games to play.
Safety was all but secured following a run of seven points from three matches against Bournemouth, Everton and Swansea, before Saints’ top-flight status was officially guaranteed on the final day.
Hughes said he made it clear from day one he was going to need players who would “dig in and make it happen” if the team were to avoid the drop.
“We’ve been doing this a long time and we know what it takes to get results in this league, but it needs buy in from the players,” he said, referring to himself and his coaching staff.
“Straight from the first day and the first minutes of walking in the room at the training ground, I just said ‘we understand exactly what we need to do. We can’t mess about, we can’t indulge people if they don’t want to be part of what we want to do. We’ve just got to go with all the guys who will dig in and make it happen for us’.
“As the season progressed from the beginning to my appointment, they were lacking confidence and that can happen to any group – your level of ability doesn’t matter.
“You’ve just got to be able to bounce back, get over it and get on with it. That’s what they’ve done.
“They’ve been excellent. Every single day they’re attentive and they want to learn – they’re a young group I’ve really enjoyed working with.
“Sometimes when you’re a little bit later in your career it’s more difficult to take on new information, but these guys were really ready to engage and try to apply what we were telling them.
“I think they believed in what we were saying. It’s no good giving duff information, they’ve got to believe in the information you give them, believe it will help them and that’s what they’re doing.”