Ralph Hasenhuttl would not be keen to have himself immortalised in a statue outside St Mary’s Stadium if he guides Southampton to FA Cup glory – and wants his players to get their focus right with victory at Premier League battlers West Brom on Monday night.
Before the Saints meet Leicester at Wembley on April 18, they can all but secure top-flight status again by picking up three points at the Hawthorns.
Hasenhuttl, though, understands that attention will soon turn towards the hopes of cup success – with Saints fans dreaming of being able to return to the national stadium to cheer their team on in person again come May 15.
The Austrian, though, would not want there to be a lasting monument to the team’s achievements should his men emulate the class of 1976, when Lawrie McMenemy’s Second Division side produced a shock 1-0 win over Manchester United.
“A good friend of mine said one time that you don’t want to have a statue because all the birds would just s*** on your head. That is the reason why I am not focused on a statue,” quipped Hasenhuttl when reminded of the tribute to long-serving former Saints player, manager, director and president Ted Bates which stands proudly outside St Mary’s.
“I want to make history at this club. This is something I cannot deny that drives everybody in this club.
“We are just a short way away from having a big chance to win something big.”
Hasenhuttl hopes the players can use the West Brom game to sharpen their focus for Wembley.
“Three points in the Premier League, this is enough for us to be motivated and for the players to give everything,” the Saints boss said.
“You can be sure that the FA Cup is still far away in the mind of the guys.
“They know that this weekend a striker could save himself for a big game there (at Wembley) – but if you don’t play well there is a big chance you won’t play against Leicester.
“It is definitely helpful if you have a good performance there (at West Brom) and take three points. It definitely helps you for the semi-final.”
Southampton sit on 36 points – a tally which has proven enough to secure Premier League survival in each of the past four campaigns.
The Baggies, meanwhile, remain well adrift despite their morale-boosting 5-2 win at Chelsea.
Hasenhuttl does not expect any of his squad to think their work is already done.
“We showed last season after lockdown when everybody said we were safe and asked what more we could achieve after lockdown,” the Saints boss added.
“We were very driven, focused and motivated for getting wins.
“I am sure there is nobody around here who won’t be taking this game seriously enough because we are playing second bottom of the league.
“We know how difficult it is – every Premier League game is tough, especially against the teams that are below us.
“We have shown really, really good performances this season because we have been very committed and focused.”
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