Ronald Koeman admits Southampton’s season will be as good as over if they fail to beat Aston Villa next Saturday.
A 1-1 draw at Everton in a match they dominated was not the result they wanted as they chase European football.
The point saw the Saints lose ground on fifth-placed Manchester United and despite three wins and a draw in their last five matches Koeman has demanded more to prevent the campaign fizzling out and he expects nothing less than a win at already-relegated Villa.
“I think from the game yesterday and next game we need at least four points and so next week is crucial,” said Koeman.
“If not then we play the last three to finish the season. We have to win for the fans but not fighting for European football.”
Southampton are not the same team on the road as they are at home and Koeman puts that down to one factor – a lack of goals.
It was evident at Goodison Park – where Everton have won just four league matches in the last 12 months – where they dominated the game, hit the woodwork three times through Dusan Tadic (twice) and Shane Long but managed to get just four of their 18 attempts on target.
“One of the reasons is that we have scored 14 away goals, 31 at home. That difference is too big,” added Koeman.
“We need to improve in that aspect. Team organisation is very good, we don’t concede a lot of goals but we need to score more goals away from home.
“I don’t know why, maybe we are too much reserved but not yesterday because we had Sadio Mane, Tadic, Long and Graziano Pelle – all strikers – and we can’t play more offensively.
“They have to make the difference, it is the responsibility of the strikers and we have to make the difference in that aspect.”
Mane scored Southampton’s goal in the 76th minute when he prodded home from close range, just eight minutes after Ramiro Funes Mori had given the hosts the lead.