Ralph Hasenhuttl very complimentary about Newcastle, looking forward to facing Rafa for first time
Ralph Hasenhuttl has met the media on Thursday morning.
The Southampton boss speaking to journalists ahead of the trip to St James Park on Saturday.
Both sides are all but safe but a win for Newcastle would all but mathematically ensure safety whatever happens elsewhere.
Appointed in early December, Ralph Hasenhuttl has proved popular with fans and had positive feedback by pundits and media.
Before he took over, Southampton only had 9 points form 15 Premier League matches.
However, under the new boss the Saints have picked up 27 points from 18.
The two playing records:
Played 15 Won 1 Drawn 6 Lost 8
After his appointment:
Played 18 Won 8 Drawn 3 Lost 7
Ralph Hasenhuttl has seen some excellent recent results with Southampton winning three from four.
A loss to Liverpool but wins over Tottenham, Brighton and Wolves.
Ralph Hasenhuttl pre-Newcastle United press conference:
“I have never faced Rafa Benítez before.
“They (Newcastle) are a very good team in a fantastic stadium with a good atmosphere, a fantastic football atmosphere, and they do it very well at the moment.
“They are nearly safe but they also want to make the last step to climb to 40 points.
“For us it’s another good challenge to show that we can compete in away games.
“In Brighton we took three points and that was important for us, a massive win for us, and at Newcastle we try to do it again.
“We try to be a very good, balanced opponent that knows exactly what to do against a very good organised team with a high quality and it’s not easy to take points there but it’s never easy in the Premier League.
“We have only a few small injuries.
“Jannik Vestergaard has a little bit of a problem and didn’t train the last two days, but today maybe he will step back in team training. Like in the last weeks, also after intense games, he had some little problems and needed a little bit longer for recovery.
“It’s a long season for a huge body and in the moment he’s struggling a little bit, but we will have a look to see if it is possible for him at the weekend.
“Alex McCarthy had some little problems yesterday after his training session and Matt Targett also a little bit, but not huge ones, so I think that should be no problem. Chaz has a bit of a problem with his shoulder, but also today he can maybe train, so let’s have a look.
“Yan Valery is ok. Michael Obafmei is not training with the group. He is in individual training sessions. Mario Lemina made a big step forward this week. He trained always with the team and looks much better now.
“That’s good for him and good for us that we know we have an intense week with three games in a week so it will be nice if we have one more option in this position.
“For sure we need more than 36 points (to be safe).
“Five points clear of Cardiff. Three points clear of Brighton. You see the result on Tuesday shows that nobody gives up. There is no knockout for Cardiff, they are still alive. I expect them to fight very hard until the end and so we have to do the same and I guarantee we will do.
“We speak about the 40 points and therefore we need four more and the good thing is I don’t have the feeling my team is leaning back. They stay focused and although it’s a long season so far I have the feeling they are very hungry and they want to hunt and take more points and that’s a good signal for me.
“I don’t have to do a lot because I think if you feel how nice it is to win games then you get motivated to do it more often and that’s exactly what I can feel at the moment.
“Games like against Wolverhampton at home helps a lot to be positive for the future and I think in the last seven games we only lost twice, and that was against Liverpool and Man United away.
“So it is a good time, a good period where we have taken a lot of points. The last five games we don’t face any top-six clubs but also the teams they have quality. But it’s a good challenge for us to see how far we are in our development.
“The game against Wolves was a good one, mainly in the first half, we were very positive and except for 10-15 minutes it was a very good game for us and another step forward, with a few new players.
“It’s very tough for me to find a first XI now, we have a lot of guys who train very well in the week and show up and that makes it very difficult for me to pick a first XI, but that’s exactly how it should be.
“It would be worse if I had players who were happy to sit on the bench because that means we don’t develop our game. They don’t play not because they are weak, but because others play well in the moment, and that’s how it should be.”
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