Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is demanding an immediate response from his side to their disappointing midweek loss at Bournemouth as they look to keep alive their European aspirations.
Koeman was far from impressed with his side’s performance in the 2-0 defeat to the Cherries, which came after a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea, and says the players need a change of mentality and attitude for this weekend’s visit of Sunderland.
Saints fans will be optimistic of their side picking up three points against the relegation-battling Black Cats and Koeman says they need to have a “good game”, irrespective of the fact they have lost strikers Charlie Austin and Shane Long to injury.
Koeman said: “We know we have good competition between the strikers and we need to give a good reaction after what happened last Tuesday.
“Normally I like to defend my players, I am enjoying my role as the manager of this club, but sometimes you need to say what you think at that moment.
“The start of the (Bournemouth) game was not good and if you start like that you cause yourself problems.
“They are not stupid, they know they were not good on Tuesday.
“You have to change your mentality, you have to change your attitude. We need a good game this Saturday.
“The Premier League is really a tough competition, if you are not 100 per cent prepared then you do not win.
“You need to keep your attitude level up and then your individual qualities but every game you need to be giving 110 per cent.”
The back-to-back losses left Southampton in ninth place in the table, seven points adrift of Manchester United in fifth.
That means the south coast club have a mountain to climb if they are to get into Europe, but Koeman is not giving up hope.
The Dutchman said: “We lost two in a row and now we have to go with confidence to win games because we want to get into Europe.
“It is still achievable, fighting for Europe, but we need a good run, after two defeats we need to win and that is the pressure we have this Saturday.
“We do not have the possibilities like the other teams, it is more difficult but qualifying for Europe would be fantastic.”
Southampton thrashed Sunderland 8-0 in last season’s corresponding fixture at St Mary’s, but while Koeman enjoys the memories of a match in which the Black Cats scored two own goals, he does not believe there will be a repeat showing on Saturday.
He said: “It is not important now because it happened once. It is a great memory but I do not think too much about last season because then you will be surprised on Saturday.
“They will fight for their life because their manager has a lot of experience and they are difficult to beat. You have to prepare yourself for that.
“It was one of the big results because it is not a normal Premier League result but if they score one or two own goals, then thank you.”