Mark Hughes has told his players the key to their survival lies in “the details”.
After blowing a two goal lead at home to Chelsea on Saturday, relegation to the Championship now stares the south-coast squad directly in the face.
The 18th placed Saints sit five points from safety, and Mark Hughes knows that in order to preserve their Premier League status, a lot has to go right.
It’s the key moments in games where you just need to be a bit resolute, when you’ve just got to clear your head a little bit more quickly and get something out of games that you deserve to get something out of. At the moment we’re having to score two goals against top-level teams and even that’s not enough, so that’s where the problem lies really.
As the remaining five fixtures for Southampton don’t look particularly kind to the strugglers, Hughes is under no illusion as to where the key lies for a successful escape plan:
We’re in a situation where people have to take on a lot of information, and I’m conscious of that. It’s only the details of the game. I’ve said this for a long, long time at previous clubs as well: you get the details right, the key moments when you recognise a situation is developing and you nip it in the bud and then it’s not a problem for you. We’re a little slow in terms of recognising that.
Fixtures against Leicester, Bournemouth, Everton, and Manchester City on the last day of the season all stand as incredibly important meetings, but the penultimate game of the campaign at Swansea will be the one most Southampton fans are keeping their eyes on.
Set to be a true “relegation six pointer”, that affair could represent Mark Hughes’ last chance to give his new club a chance at playing Premier league football again next year.