March 11, 2018 / 3:21 PM / 2 months ago

Soccer: Spirit key to Southampton's top-flight survival - Pellegrino

(Reuters) - Spirit and aggression are vital for Southampton’s hopes of turning their fortunes around and avoiding relegation from the Premier League this season, manager Mauricio Pellegrino said.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United vs Southampton - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - March 10, 2018 Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino looks dejected REUTERS/Scott Heppell

Southampton, who secured an eighth-placed league finish last season, have won just five of their 30 matches this campaign to sit a point and a place above the relegation zone after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Newcastle United.

Pellegrino believes that the poor result at St. James’ Park was a reflection of his team’s hopelessness and has urged his players to not give up with eight league games remaining in the season.

“The spirit of the team and the attitude of the team is everything,” Pellegrino said. “You can have good players, you can have budget, but without spirit and personality (it) is really difficult to compete.

“This is the minimum that we have to show. If not it will not be easier.

“At this level we have to cope with a different attitude.”

Southampton, who are winless in their last four league games, will be hoping to get a morale-boosting win when they meet League One (third tier) side Wigan Athletic in their FA Cup quarter-final tie next Sunday.

“In the next weekend we have got another opportunity to try to move forward in the FA Cup and still this club and this group of players are in a position that still we are alive,” Pellegrino is quoted as saying in the Daily Echo.

“We have eight (league) games to go and I think we have a lot of things to show and I think we will do it. Overall we have to change, we have to switch on our spirit and compete much better.”

If second-bottom Stoke City pull off an unlikely upset over league leaders Manchester City on Monday, Southampton will drop into the bottom three ahead of a crucial fixture against 16th-placed West Ham United on March 31.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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