By SFC Media time Wed 13 Feb First team

Saints boss on late night meetings, applying stress in training, and how he's making the most of the team's winter camp...

Tenerife, 8.30pm. Dinner is coming to an end for Southampton's players, but the day is by no means over for them.

In a meeting room a few steps away from where the team is finishing up its evening meal, manager Ralph Hasenhüttl is waiting to speak to members of his squad on an individual basis.

The Saints boss has taken his players abroad for a warm-weather training camp, but it is not only while the sun is up that he is intent on working with them.

it's very important for us to reflect on what has happened in the last two months. the players should get a reminder of all the good things and the worst things they have done.

ralph hasenhüttl
southampton manager

Videos have been prepared for each player, detailing both their best and worst moments in the two months Hasenhüttl has been in charge, and the manager is using all available hours to go through the clips in person with every one of them.

"It takes a lot of time to meet every player, a minimum of 20 minutes," says Hasenhüttl, speaking in between a day of double on-pitch training sessions, with a gym workout thrown in for good measure.

"Still, after dinner, we have two hours and I think nobody wants to go to bed before 10pm, so they have time for this, and I think they appreciate it, because they like to see themselves playing football and we have the chance here.

"We have our meeting room, we can take every player anytime we want and if it's late in the evening it's also possible, and that's good.

"It's very important for us to reflect on what has happened in the last two months. For this reason we need time, and here we can spend the whole day together, we can do a lot of individual meetings with every player.

"I think they should get a reminder of all the good things and the worst things they did in the first two months. We have prepared a lot of video clips for them to show them."

Hasenhüttl's meetings are already well under way by the time he sits down for this interview, so how has he found the players' response to them?

"I think they want to see what deficit they have still, and they also want to see what they make better now in their game," he explains.

"Mainly for the young players, but also for the experienced ones, it's important to get feedback.

"We invested a lot of time to find the right clips for these guys, and maybe it helps the next time for them to find better decisions in those moments.

"I think for everybody it's important to get that feedback, and for us it is also important to hear how they feel in the moment and what is the atmosphere in the group and what they think about our way.

we have fantastic conditions to work with. we can stay out longer and discuss and analyse situations and tactical things.

ralph hasenhüttl
on visiting tenerife for a training camp

"The reason why our game now looks completely different is mainly based on video sessions and video clips, because we didn't have so much time to train it. It's a kind of work I always did in my career and I think it's one of the biggest chances to get very quickly your philosophy in the minds of the players."

That additional time to work with his squad was just one of the factors in Hasenhüttl deciding to take his players away from Staplewood Campus for a week.

"We have here fantastic conditions to work with the ball and work on a few topics we will need in the next weeks," he says.

"We can train two times a day, and have a chance here to put our tactical stuff on the pitch, not just in the video sessions.

"If you want to work with the ball on the pitch it's not windy, it's warm, you can stay out a little bit longer and discuss and analyse situations and tactical things without getting cold.

"It's easier for me to put a few tactical things in the mind of the guys. The other thing is we have a hotel where you can have all the possibilities we need for working with individual meetings and you have the time to grab every player if we need them to show them some things and I think that's the main part why we decided to come here."

TENERIFE, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 12: Callum Slattery on day 2 of Southampton FC's winter training Camp, on February 12, 2019 in Tenerife, Spain. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ralph Hasenhüttl has been putting the heat on his players in Tenerife

While a lot of time has been invested in getting the off-pitch side of things right in Tenerife, Hasenhüttl and his staff have also been putting a lot of thought into what work happens on the training pitch throughout the week.

"We put this week under the topic that we need to have more deep runs and create more goal chances for the future," he says.

"Mainly in these recent games we have been against opponents that are not really playing so much football, so we have to always build up our game from behind and try to stress them and that's a completely different game like to the one against Arsenal.

"Next week we have time to prepare for Arsenal, but this week we try to look back on the last games against opponents who are not playing so much, because also coming up we have a few of those games to play and then we have it in our minds I hope, and if you need it you can take it.

"I think it's a good week for working on these positions and then next week we are back at home and then it's about knowing what to do against a very good footballing Arsenal team."

Hasenhüttl explains that he has been deliberately putting his players into "stress situations" in training this week, as he looks to ensure there is no repeat of the late heartache suffered against Cardiff last Saturday.

"The good thing was that the team tried to win, although it wasn't really clever in that moment, and it was horrible that we gave it away," he adds, thinking back to Cardiff's winner deep into added time, only moments after Saints had equalised.

"Sometimes in stress situations they have to be a bit smarter, and these scenarios we try to create in the training sessions also.

"We don't have to look at a game this weekend, so we can force them a little bit more – not so much that they get injured, but they have had a very tough session in the morning and then in the afternoon a workout in the gym, combined with two groups working on group tactical things. That's also intensive.

"Wednesday is again a very intensive session in the morning, Thursday a little bit less and then on Friday again an intensive day before flying home. I think we use this time for making the next step in our development.

"We have improved our game in a few parts, but it's still not enough to win more games. We took a lot of points, but the last three games maybe too little and so we are still under the line.

"You see how tough it is. After the last game it was very disappointing. We spoke about this game on Monday before we came here.

"Although it was hurting everyone, we tried to put it away by discussing and analysing it, and then learn out of this situation so it doesn't happen once again, and I think it's very important for us to be honest with ourselves and to see what we are good in at the moment and what we are still missing.

"I think the guys were very critical to themselves – and me too, I was very critical with them. But, after this analysis, I think we can focus on the next weeks."

Whatever happens in them, one thing is for sure; Hasenhüttl will have left no stone unturned in making sure his players are fully prepared.


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