Dean Smith ripped into his Aston Villa flops and warned he is ready to wield the axe ahead of the League Cup final next Sunday.
The Midlands strugglers failed to produce a single shot on target at Southampton while they crashed to another costly defeat in their battle to beat the drop.
They remain only a point above the drop zone and afterwards fuming Smith did not hold back with his stinging criticism.
Asked how he felt, the Villa Park boss, whose side face Manchester City at Wembley, snapped: “Embarrassment. We never showed enough desire to get on the ball and to compete.
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“It’s a massive surprise. The thing that hurts me the most was the lack of a fight. There was no competitive edge from us.
“I sit here and take full responsibility. This was the lowest of the lows. But the players have let themselves down with their performances.
“I spoke beforehand about us having 13 cup finals to play this season but some have just played themselves out of another cup final next week.”
Smith was later forced to deny being involved in a tunnel bust-up with assistant John Terry but Villa players can expect a painful post-mortem into this sorry display.
He added: “There will be some cowering behind this scenes when we do a debrief, that’s for sure. They have to show me what they’re about. They certainly didn’t today.
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“There’s too many training ground players. If you want to play in the Premier League you’ve got to perform on a match day. “
No such problems for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints after their third home victory of the campaign fired them ten points clear of relegation.
Hitman Shane Long opened the scoring after eight minutes with his NINTH goal in 12 games against the Villains – a remarkable strike rate given his career ratio is a mediocre one every 4.6 outings.
The hosts fully deserved that lead but, despite being on top throughout, had to wait until time added on to seal the result through Stuart Armstong’s breakaway effort.
Hasenhuttl had called on the home fans to turn St Mary’s into nasty fortress – and his celebrations with the faithful at the final whistle underlined they had more than delivered on that front.
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The Austrian coach declared: “It was tight until the end. But it was a great performance from everyone – the players and the crowd.
”We tried to create and play quick. This is what the crowd want to see. It was exactly the afternoon we wanted.”
As for Southampton looking in decent shape to stay out of any end-of-season dogfight, Hasenhuttl is refusing to take anything for granted.
He went on: “34 points is maybe not enough – so we need more. I don’t think about being safe.
“But we have stretched the distance from the bottom three, which is good for us. We have taken six points against Villa – and today was one of our best home games.”
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Long, 33, is in talks about a new contract with his current deal expiring June. More displays like this and it will be no brainier for the club to keep the Republic of Ireland forward.
Hasenhuttl hinted as much before admitting he had no idea about Long’s love of putting Villa to the sword.
“We are speaking to the player about his contract,” he said. “Shane has shown again today that he can score goals as well as work hard form us.
“I wasn’t aware of his record against Villa. No, he hadn’t told me. The past doesn’t matter. What matters is what happens today.”
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