Southampton set 40-point survival target by Hassenhuttl
The Saints face a tough trip to Arsenal on Sunday as they look to climb back out of the bottom three.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has set his players a target of 40 points for Premier League survival after putting them through their paces during a tough training camp in Tenerife.
Saints headed to the Canary Islands following a home defeat to fellow strugglers Cardiff a fortnight ago that dropped them back into the relegation zone.
Hasenhuttl used the lengthy break ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal to remind his squad of their responsibilities and prepare them for the run-in.
“It was an intensive time but I think we needed it because we are still below the line,” Hassenhuttl said.
“We have a hard way to go until the end, so it was important to use the time where we had a chance to speak with every player, show him what was good until now, what was not so good.
“We have taken a lot of points until now but it’s the same amount of points we need until the end of the season because we will maybe need 40 points this year to stay in the league. We all know 24 is not enough.
“Therefore it was important (for the players) to get a reminder and speak about things we have improved in our game and things that can be better in the future for all the different challenges we will face over the next few weeks against top teams or teams in our zone.
“We have shown we can take points against the big teams but also lose points against the small teams.
“It’s important for the end of the season we have a plan for every game and that’s what we tried to prepare in this week.”
Southampton have improved significantly since Hasenhuttl replaced the sacked Mark Hughes in early December.
The Austrian is responsible for 15 of the club’s 24 points, however, the major setback against Cardiff – that followed successive draws at home to Crystal Palace and at Burnley – was a reminder of the difficult task at hand.
Hassenhuttel feels the defeat to Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds may provide additional motivation for his squad.
“After a disappointing game, we don’t want to look back,” he said. “It would be easier if we had won the last game but it wasn’t (to be).
“Maybe the focus is a little bit higher from the players, and that’s maybe an advantage because we know we have to do more and bring more on the pitch than we did in the last three games.
“It was easier for me to be critical and maybe this can help us in the last 12 games.”