It’s not normal times, therefore preparations ahead of Saints' opening Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on Saturday have brought about new challenges for manager Ralph Hasenhüttl.
It will have only been 49 days between Premier League seasons this year, including an international break that saw a handful of Southampton's squad depart for over a week.
Therefore, this pre-season has been a new experience for the Saints boss: “I think it’s not a normal pre-season.
“For two weeks we had International players gone so this isn’t normal but we have to handle it. With the special circumstances we have all around the world, we are just happy we can start the league again. We just try to make ourselves as fit as possible and as prepared as possible.”
“The players are in a different place than after returning from lockdown. They came back from that break in better shape, but we had to now give them time off as we had a very long season and they had to recover and relax.
“It’s not possible to play at the highest level. We tried to bring them back as quick as possible on a good level for our game as we have a very intense way to play football. Finally, we will take the first games to get everyone on the same page and hopefully we can immediately get some results.”
ralph hasenhüttlwe have new shirts, but the rest should stay the same.
Focus can now shift from the training ground and onto the pitch, as Saints travel to Crystal Palace in the hope of maintaining the incredible away form which brought 31 of the total 52 points in 2019/20.
Hasenhüttl is hoping his team can pick up where they left off when it comes to their performances on the road: “I’m always optimistic before a season because you don’t know where you are. I have a feeling we can build something here which is based on the last five or six games of last season but it’s a new one now.
“It will be a good game [against Crystal Palace] because they have good attacking quality, especially the front four players.
"They are a team that aren’t easy to play against as they have an organised defence. We go there with the knowledge of the 2-0 win last season but it’s a different challenge now, so if we don’t turn up we have no chance.
“We have new shirts now but the rest should stay the same. Hopefully we can show up again and be a team that takes points on the road.
“We must step up and fight for everything or you have no chance. We know with our team we must run more, sprint more and play better football or we don’t win.”