Yo, me hearties! Southampton are currently top of the Premier League! And certainly by no misadventure or perchance by luck but sheer hard work, persistence and perseverance. Not to mention also due to a big change in mentality that has struck pure gold with the club’s talented players labouring to give their best.
Yes, Southampton are top of the Premier League right now for the first time in the club’s history, with loveable Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side having kickstarted the season with a blistering pace and have, in recent weeks, beaten early pace-setters Everton and Aston Villa.
It has been through no coincidence that the Saints have nimbly scaled the rocky cliffs along the path to the top of the table as Hasenhuttl has, since his first day at Staplewood Campus, instilled a mentality at Southampton that losing is certainly not an option, not even against some of the Premier League’s top-flight, biggest teams.
It is a mentality that Hassenjuttl himself was indoctrinated with during his time at RB Leipzig as the club set their targets on an optimistic rise to the very top of the Bundesliga against their traditionally bigger and much-feared rivals.
Even though the targets for the Saints were never that lofty as the ones set at the Bundesliga club, – Hassenhuttl’s side’s incredible run is nevertheless an incredible one while they continue to hone in on new targets.
Southampton have now picked up more points in their opening eight games than even Leicester City did in 2016, which is the opening chapter of English football’s perfect fairytale.
“Take it as a signal that we at the moment are a very strong side and that we showed again that we can have a high level of performing,” Hasenhuttl explained.
Hasenhuttl has always been one known for his predilection for memorable analogies, and this season has been no different.
His latest is to liken his players as the pirates of the Premier League – out to plunder big points and precious booty away from the big boys and to have a jolly good time along the way, like the buccaneers of the high seas of old.
“We go into every game to be successful. The good thing at the moment is for me that we show this mentality much more.
“Before I came here, I was working in a team where losing was not allowed because we wanted to be top in Germany, and this is the mentality that I tried to implement from my first day here.
“We have a good mentality in our team. We have that mentality of, I sometimes call it, we like to be the pirates and that is more fun than to join the Navy.
“It’s definitely something we can use every day and makes it fun to go and grab some points from the big teams,” he added.
This season Hasenhuttl has demonstrated his talents as a coach and chief of the buccaneers, topping pressing statistics and getting more out of his players than ever before.
That has been clear to see with Jannik Vestergaard who this term is a man reborn in red and white, bedecked not unlike a pirate of yesteryears.
“He doesn’t like to lose football matches,” Vestergaard explained to HampshireLive with regards to his coach.
“When this mentality makes a real change is when the team believes it. The players are on the pitch and if we start refusing to accept losses or if we expect to win every game, that is when it starts to really change things.
“We have developed in that sense. There were times when as a club we didn’t have the best confidence and we maybe did not ever expect to win when we walked onto the pitch, if we were completely honest with ourselves.
“That has changed,” he said. “We want to win. We are not here to destroy the football of the opponent’s team, we are here to impose our style of play on them.”
Southampton fans should get ready and prepare themselves for the clarion call.
Their manager has already pulled off one of the biggest coups in the League this early so far in taking them to the top of the division although for now the Southampton boss remains focussed on keeping his side as high up the table as he can, and even displaying a modicum of humility in ruling out the possibility of replicating Leicester City’s unbeliveable fairy-tale triumph.
“That’s not possible anymore because the top teams are simply too strong, too consistent in their performances and the squads they have are much more used to this way of consistently winning,” he admitted.
“For us it’s not about looking to be at the top of the table, it’s about having another chance to take points consistently.
“The sooner we have the points, the better it is, but yes we want to still play on our highest possible level and if we do this, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t win the game on Friday evening.
“This is the goal and we have shown some fantastic performances in the past weeks and I want to show we are still hungry and we still want to make the next step and the next step and this is the only way to be motivated.”