Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl's post-match comments will grate with Sheffield United
Ralph Hasenhuttl, the Southampton manager, admitted he always suspected Sheffield United were the “ideal” opponents for his team as they looked to end their winless Premier League run because the visitors “possessed the right tools” to beat Chris Wilder’s side.
Aided and abetted by an abject second-half display from United, the visitors cruised to their first victory in the competition since January 4 - Che Adams, previously of Bramall Lane, making sure of the result after James Ward Prowse’s penalty.
Although Southampton appeared devoid of confidence themselves during the opening exchanges, they seldom seemed in danger of surrendering the advantage Ward-Prowse handed them from the spot after the interval. Indeed, only some fine saves from Aaron Ramsdale prevented them from stretching their lead following Adams’ superb finish.
“I told people in the week I felt this was the ideal game for us because we had players coming back and we had the tools to beat them,” said Hasenhuttl, rightly reserving special praise for youngster Nathan Tella. “We had much more of a threat on the pitch.”
Although Hasenhuttl’s comments will grate with Wilder, who saw United fail to build on Wednesday night’s win over Aston Villa, the Austrian’s admission that the loss of key players to injury has been a huge handicap to Southampton in recent weeks did strike a chord. With Jack O’Connell, Chris Basham, John Egan and Phil Jagielka all unavailable for selection, the hosts struggled to make an impression on the game and now appear doomed to relegation.
“We knew it was an important game.,” Hasenhuttl said. “We had the right players in the right positions for the first time in a long time.
“Wins give you belief. I didn’t believe it can be so different when you have a few players back and then every player can play in their perfect position. So it is good that they are back and we are a more competitive side, for sure.”
"There as no reason for us to panic, because we knew we had players coming back,” he added. “In this division, you need your best available to be involved and we still need to strengthen.”