Skip to main content

Ralph Hasenhuttl challenges Southampton to hunt down Leicester for final spot

Everton v Southampton – Premier League – Goodison Park
(Image credit: Clive Brunskill)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has challenged his side to stay hungry and hunt down Leicester to book their place in the FA Cup final.

The Saints take on the Foxes at Wembley on Sunday looking to stay on course for a memorable end to a campaign which had promised so much before their Premier League form fell away.

A 3-0 defeat at relegation-threatened West Brom was hardly the best warm-up for a showpiece semi-final against a side chasing Champions League qualification.

Hasenhuttl, though, sees Sunday’s Wembley encounter as the perfect place to again prove their cup pedigree – which has produced victories over holders Arsenal then away at Wolves and Bournemouth, all without conceding a goal.

“I don’t think this is a problem of not having the right mindset,” said Hasenhuttl, who has no fresh injury concerns, but will not be able to select cup-tied on-loan Liverpool winger Takumi Minamino.

“When we are hungry and when we know what we have to hunt for, then we are strong – and this is what I expect from my team at the weekend.

“The face we have shown so far in the FA Cup was a very good one – and it was not an easy way to go.

“We eliminated the cup holders and then away against Wolves. OK, against Bournemouth maybe it was not the most difficult game, but you have to win there finally to make it in the semi-final.

“When you see what teams are there around – Chelsea, Man City and Leicester – it is for us just now a big success.”

Hasenhuttl added: “We had some very good moments this season. We had been very high up in the table for a short term, then we had very big problems with injury.

“Maybe also because we were also focusing a little bit on the cup, selecting the strongest side for the cup games, especially in January and February, that cost us a few injuries.

“But a cup final can definitely turn things 360 degrees around, then it would be a successful season definitely.”

Lawrie McMenemy’s then Second Division side produced a shock 1-0 win over Manchester United as Southampton lifted the FA Cup in 1976.

While the status of the world’s oldest knockout competition may not now be what it was for some in the Premier League era, it will always hold a special place for Hasenhuttl.

“This FA Cup is a very traditional competition, the most known around the world, and this is the reason why everybody loves it so much I think,” the Austrian said.

“Sometimes (they love it) more than a few managers at the moment because the Premier League has a very high level in our daily work and we are always getting called (out) on how much we have won in the Premier League, on how many points we have.

“The FA Cup is then a little bit in behind, but I think the fact you have three or four weekends where you play this cup is something unique in all the leagues around Europe, that you play the cup at the weekend.

“It shows how important the cup is here for the people in this country and should be for us.”

Hasenhuttl, though, accepts Sunday will be no walk in the Wembley park against Brendan Rodgers’ men.

“To be part of the Champions League spots is showing the amazing work they have been doing for a few years,” he said.

“Brendan has made the squad into a top squad, so I expect a very tough game.

“But the semi-final of the cup has its own rules and for us it is not important what position we are in the table or what position they are.

“We had to go through the rounds and now we are facing each other for a big final for everybody.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1