Ralph Hasenhüttl was philosophical at the full-time whistle at London Stadium, where his side were comfortably beaten by West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
A strong start to the second half, with chances for the lively substitute Nathan Redmond among other, gave way to a tired conclusion as the Hammers struck twice late on to secure the points.
Given the considerable mental and physical exertions shown by his side in the months leading up to mathematical safety, the Austrian was disappointed but no more by his players’ efforts in the capital.
“I think we saw today that the last week and the last months have cost a lot of energy for this team, mentally and physically,” he said. “Then if you are one down in such a game, it is not easy to find a way back.”
The introduction of Redmond for Danny Ings at half-time gave Saints added impetus after the break, a period in which the inability to find an equaliser proved critical.
“In the second half we tried everything, and in the first 20 minutes of that we made a lot of chances. The change to bring Redmond in gave us new power up front.
“If we had scored there, we could have turned the table but in the end, there was not enough power in our game and against the ball to take something from West Ham.
“The energy the guys put on the pitch was okay, we worked hard while we were 1-0 down but after two, it was a long way to go and the guys knew they did not have the energy left to turn the table again from that position.”