Hasenhüttl: We are more than a pressing team now

By SFC Media time Sat 28 Nov Saints v Manchester United
Photo by Matt Watson | Ralph Hasenhüttl

As Southampton prepare to put their long unbeaten run to the test against Manchester United, manager Ralph Hasenhüttl has reflected on one of the major leaps his side has made in its development.

Saints are now seven Premier League games without defeat, following Monday night's 1-1 draw at Wolves, and head into the latest round of fixtures in fifth position, five places and four points ahead of their opponents.

It continues a fine run of form extending back to the 2019/20 restart, when Hasenhüttl's side took points from eight of their final nine matches.

we are not only a pressing team anymore. this is the message at the moment.

ralph hasenhüttl
on southampton's development

Perhaps the biggest change the manager has overseen during that time is a shift to being a more possession-based side, balancing that with the team's counter-pressing ability.

"Especially our game in possession now shows some habits and some patterns that we haven't shown in the past, and I think this is something that the players really enjoy," said Hasenhüttl, ahead of Sunday's game at St Mary's.

"It's always nice to have the ball and play with the ball, rather than only running and hunting to get it back, so this is maybe the biggest change at the moment in our game, although there we still have massive things to improve.

"But I think we are not only a pressing team anymore. This is the message in the moment, we are also with the ball a team that can cause you some problems."

Hasenhüttl explained there was some risk involved in making that change, but the players repaid his faith in them by adapting swiftly to the new demands.

"I was hoping it would go that quick and I'm very happy that it didn't take longer because you don't have the time to make a lot of mistakes and still get good results, so it was a risky change of our game, but I think in the moment we feel comfortable and this is amazing to see how quickly players are learning what we wanted to see, and it's a never-ending story hopefully that we can get better and better," he said.

Certainly, however good a shape Saints are in, they will face a stern test this weekend.

While United may be behind them in the table, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team have won their last three matches and are unbeaten in their previous ten away Premier League games.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Ralph Hasenhüttl during a Southampton FC training session at the Staplewood Campus on November 26, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ralph Hasenhüttl prepares his players ahead of Manchester United clash

So, what do Southampton need to do in order to be successful on Sunday?

"Simply do a perfect job," said Hasenhüttl. "It sounds simple, but it's difficult to do it, because they have a strong side and they are on a good run, especially in away games, where they have a good record.

"We know it is tough, we are the underdog, but we go in this game to be as competitive as possible and to be a strong opponent and let's have a look at how many issues we can cause them and how much problems we can make for them and then we can hopefully take something."

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