Ralph Hasenhuttl believes he has built a “special relationship” with Nathan Redmond to coax the best out of the Southampton forward.
Redmond fired his first top-flight double in two years to drive Saints to a 3-1 win over Wolves at St Mary’s that all-but secures their Premier League safety.
Former Birmingham forward Redmond failed to find the net under ex-Saints boss Mark Hughes – but now boasts eight goals in 20 games in all competitions during Hasenhuttl’s tenure.
Hasenhuttl bagged his eighth win in 18 league outings at Saints as the south coast men swept past Wolves, leaving the taskmaster Austrian boss delighted with match-winner Redmond.
Asked how he has brought Redmond back to form, Hasenhuttl said: “It’s a little bit of everything, sometimes give him the smooth shoulder, sometimes criticise him.
“But we have a special relationship I think.
“He knows that I demand a lot from him, not only with the ball but also without.
“He shows in every game that he’s learning and getting better.
“I showed him what we need in his position, and showed him that he can be the guy that can make the difference.
“I knew it was only a question of time for him to be scoring again.”
Saints now sit eight points clear of relegation favourites Cardiff, with just five games to play.
Hasenhuttl was quick however to warn his squad that there will be no easing off until safety is ensured.
“It’s a massive win for us, but we’ve been speaking about 40 points for safety, so as long as we don’t have that I won’t celebrate,” said Hasenhuttl.
“I gave them a wake-up call at half-time even though we were leading 2-1, because we were not brave enough and we had a long way to go.
“It was very hard for me to select the team; I gave Sims a chance today to play from the beginning.
“And he did very well – the first goal, he was in exactly the position I want him to be.”
Hailing the Southampton supporters for handing him a standing ovation at full-time, Hasenhuttl continued: “That’s what I was working for from the first day; that we stand together and we march together.
“The pressure lifts when you win, and then you can celebrate with the fans. “That’s the most beautiful moment of the weekend.
“We want to give them nice weekends with a lot of enjoyment at our games.
“To give them back what they give us during 90 minutes.”
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo stormed out of the post-match press conference when told that the Molineux men have gone five games without a win on the road.
“But how many games have we won at home? Come on,” said Nuno, walking out to cut short his post-match interviews.
Wolves will now head to Marbella for some warm-weather training, with Nuno insisting his men had not suffered at Saints due to any FA Cup hangover.
Asked whether Wolves’ 3-2 extra-time semi-final loss to Watford had hit his side hard on the south coast, Nuno had earlier said: “I understand that question, but no, we have to look at different things.
“Today Southampton were better than us in almost every situation.
“Marbella was something we planned one month ago, to push the positives of going away before the final run of the season.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.