Ralph Hasenhuttl believes Southampton have found the right balance at the back to kick clear of the Premier League relegation scrap.
The Austrian boss hailed his back-three of Jack Stephens, Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard for helping transform Saints’ play both on and off the ball.
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James Ward-Prowse and an own goal from Andre Gomes sealed Saints’ 2-1 win over Everton at St Mary’s on Saturday, leaving manager Hasenhuttl boosted by the quick progress on his watch.
Former RB Leipzig boss Hasenhuttl already boasts four wins in eight top-flight matches, where predecessor Mark Hughes claimed just three in 22.
“Jack Stephens has taken the place from Maya Yoshida, and you’d think he’s been playing all the time, in this back five,” said Hasenhuttl.
“We’ve worked a lot with this back five and we’ve found this shape and it’s fitting perfectly for us. “Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens and Jannik Vestergaard have found each other, and I think they are a very good balance.
They enjoy defending together and enjoy defending for the team.”