RALPH Hasenhuttl labelled the success of Tottenham Hotspur’s crossing as “annoying” but insisted the “gap between the two teams” is too big.
Saints fell to a 4-1 defeat in the opening match of the new Premier League season, despite James Ward-Prowse setting the visitors ahead inside the first quarter-of-an-hour.
Mohammed Salisu’s own goal in the second-half was a low moment but the damage was already done following a barrage of balls into the area that Saints could not defend.
Ryan Sessegnon and Eric Dier scored headers in the first period to make it 2-1 to Spurs at the break, while Dejan Kulusevski finished the rout with a curling effort before full-time.
It means Saints have slipped to back-to-back 4-1 Premier League defeats, if you include their final day loss at Leicester City back in May – before six new signings and three new coaches.
“I didn’t want to say that the full first-half was good, it felt a little bit like the opponent switched into the next gear and we cannot follow, after the first 20 minutes,” Hasenhuttl said, after the match.
“This is frustrating to see how big the gap is between the two teams to be honest. After the first goal they had the feeling that they were absolutely in the game and then they smashed us with their crosses, we couldn’t defend in the way we wanted to.”
He continued: “This was definitely not the way we wanted to see it. We had a good start, were brave trying to play forward and had some good moments.
“We scored a good goal and everything was going in our direction, but then it felt like the opponent switched into the next gear and we cannot follow.”
Asked if he had questioned whether his team can continue to play in the new five-at-the-back shape they have used since the beginning of pre-season, Hasenhuttl shared some doubts.
“It is the effect that you are not always having pressure on the ball and if they have free crosses it is not easy to defend balls in the box,” he said.
“This happens when you are defending around your box. We are normally more active up front putting pressure on the ball.
“We know this but I was not expecting that we are so struggling. This was a little bit annoying I must say.”
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