Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl wants his team to stop being “too nice” to get the Premier League campaign going again in Everton.
After briefly sitting upstairs in November, the Saints fell off the table after seven losses from eight league games in 2021.
Hasenhuttl has exhausted his options this year with a series of injuries. Midfielder Oriol Romeu is the last one absent.
The veteran Spaniard, 29, will now miss the rest of the season after breaking an ankle in the 3-0 Leeds defeat that requires surgery.
Striker Theo Walcott, defender Kyle Walker-Peters and midfielder Ibrahima Diallo continue to recover from recent fitness problems.
Saints won’t have the option to play Takumi Minamino against the Toffees either.
The Liverpool striker on loan suffered a hamstring injury after being substituted on at Elland Road in the second half. The Japan international had hoped to get the most out of much-needed game action.
After the game on Monday night at Goodison Park, Southampton will travel to the bottom club Sheffield United and will host both Brighton and Burnley in the coming weeks before heading to relegation fighters West Brom after Easter.
Hasenhuttl believes that given the crucial challenges, players need to develop a more cynical mindset about the challenges ahead.
“We are definitely too nice sometimes, or we were in the last week when we had an opponent in our box and then we played the ball and if the opponent doesn’t get the ball back they would make tactical fouls. Said the Austrian.
“Driving that is something in your behavior, and the behavior we have here is too beautiful.
“It’s hard to change because that’s our mentality and the only problem is that if you are correct and follow the rules in football you will always be punished.
“We’re angry in the sense that we’re aggressive on the ball and attacking, but we’re definitely too nice in other areas.”
Former RB Leipzig boss Hasenhuttl recalled a campaign in Germany when he gave the group a bigger advantage. Granted, he just didn’t feel right.
“I changed this kind of behavior as a manager when I had a year when I was promoted from the Bundesliga with Ingolstadt in 2015.2” said the Austrian.
“We were the meanest team in the league, but in the end it doesn’t make you happy as a manager.”
Hasenhuttl, who was named at St Mary’s Stadium in early December 2018, added: “The behavior we have here in Southampton is usually the reason I love English football.
“The players are always honest and don’t roll away, they try to stay on their feet and it’s still far from any other league in world football and that’s why I like it so much.”