Ralph Hasenhuttl knows his young group at Southampton will become a “very good team” but has conceded it must happen sooner rather than later.
The Saints suffered a third consecutive defeat on Saturday after going down 2-1 at home to Everton.
It firmly halted what had been a decent start to the new campaign after Hasenhuttl oversaw big changes in the summer with his coaching staff freshened up and a number of young additions brought to St Mary’s.
Southampton’s long-serving manager endured a difficult end to the 2021-22 campaign, which proved the catalyst for an overhaul to the squad in pre-season, and this latest loss means they have now suffered 14 defeats from their last 20 Premier League matches.
But Hasenhuttl, who heard his players booed off on Saturday, insisted: “I feel that we have a team that is young and I must say the crowd was fantastic during the 90 minutes.
“We never had the feeling it was a bad atmosphere or something like that and this is what this team needs. They need time.
“They will one time be a very good team but as we said, we know when we speak about Premier League football, young and talented is nice to have but the rest is about learning, learning quick, developing quick and this is what we try.”
Gavin Bazunu, Armel Bella-Kotchap and Romeo Lavia are among the young players Saints have invested in and Hasenhuttl handed out three more full debuts for Everton’s visit with Juan Larios, Duje Caleta-Car and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in from the off.
After an uneventful first 45 on the south coast, the clash sprung into life with Joe Aribo’s opener cancelled out by goals from Conor Coady and Dwight McNeil in the space of nine minutes to give the visitors a 2-1 win.
Southampton finished strongly and both Che Adams and Adam Armstrong were unable to make the most of promising situations with Hasenhuttl aware that is an area where they must improve.
“You have to take the advantage when you have it and when you are in. This is also something, a part of our game, that has to be better in the future because we are investing so much and the outcome is not enough,” he admitted.
“We didn’t win so you can always argue (against decisions) but I was not unhappy.
“With what I have seen, the way we play, the way we won the balls and the way we competed against this team was absolutely how we try to play and how we work in the week.
“In the end, yes we didn’t get anything countable and that is the reason why we are frustrated.”
Southampton now turn their attention to a daunting trip to champions Manchester City and Everton will also face a side from that city next weekend.
Manchester United will visit Goodison Park on Sunday with the Toffees now unbeaten in six and on a two-game winning streak.
It could have been different at St Mary’s had Jordan Pickford, back after a thigh injury, not thwarted Armstrong’s 72nd-minute effort and impressively dealt with a barrage of late crosses into the area.
Everton boss Frank Lampard said of Pickford: “He has been fighting that injury for the last three or four weeks so fair play.
“He was really good. Jordan does that for us and particularly one save (from Armstrong) was a big save. He did a couple of bits and gives us that sense of calm. He is a quality goalkeeper but to be fair to (Asmir) Begovic, he did that against West Ham for us.
“With Jordan, it is just a pleasure to manage a goalkeeper who makes saves like that to help you win games or stay in games in this league. It is a big, big deal in this league. To be able to work with Jordan is an amazing thing for me.”