There were mixed emotions for Saints’ Pierre-Emile Højbjerg at the final whistle against Manchester City at St Mary’s on Sunday afternoon.
The Dane could not hide his relief at his team’s “huge step” to safety was finally accomplished but acknowledged that this has been both mentally and physically “a tough and demanding season.”
“To look back on the situation we were in a month ago and where we are now is a huge step,” he said.
“There have been some tough weeks but it’s been amazing to save ourselves and the fans have been fantastic in these final matches.
“This is the reward for the work we have put in with the new manager who came in with his assistants and the team around them and the amount of energy, quality and intensity we have put in.
"Overall, it’s been a tough and demanding season mentally and physically, it’s obvious that it hasn’t played out the way we wished and the way we wanted and as we are capable of.”
For Højbjerg, the analysis can wait for a later date, but for now it is simply a matter of enjoying the team’s push for the finish line and appreciating the connection between fans and players in that time.
“As players, we have to put the shift in and get the result, but if the fans can do what they have done for the last few weeks then it is worth an extra five or ten points a season," he said.
“Right now, it’s difficult to say what we learned or what the mistakes were. Analysing the bigger things and the smaller details of the season will happen when you come away from it all and clear your head and the emotions cool.
“We will have to begin again positively for a new season but the most important thing is that we will be starting it in the Premier League.”