WHEN the excitement is over and they stop celebrating Premier League survival, Southampton’s players should take a long hard look at themselves.

Mark Hughes has not given them any extra ability.

What he has done is made them use that ability as a team rather than as individuals.

He has lifted the fighting spirit which was not too evident before his arrival and leadership has also come out.

The target for every club is to stay in the Premier League but the Southampton players should not be content with that.

The club and particularly its supporters deserve better.

Depending on tomorrow’s results it may only be goal difference that keeps us in the top flight.

A club like ours, after the transfer fees and salaries that have been paid out, deserves a higher position.

Hopefully the club will still have Mark in charge when they return for pre-season.

I’m sure he and his staff, who have made such a difference, will be telling them they should be starting the way they finished the season.

If we can get back in the top six that would be a tremendous achievement, but we’re definitely a ‘middle-eight’ club with the facilities, history and support we have.

Anything less is unacceptable.

By reaching last year’s EFL Cup final and an FA Cup semi-final this season, the team has proved it can turn it on now and again.

Let’s hope they can do it every week next season, when I’m thinking of doing the pools after predicting that we would win 1-0 at Swansea during a pre-match radio interview.

It’s a good thing we did.

With three points needed for 100, Manchester City won’t take their foot off the pedal at St Mary’s .

Mark has sorted out the dressing room in a very short period.

There has been an improvement in the performances before the seven-point haul from the last three games, particularly in the 3-2 defeats against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Sir Alex Ferguson once introduced me to Mark Hughes in the Manchester United dressing room after a game and you couldn’t help but notice the size of his calf muscles, which were bigger than most people’s thighs.

I’m certainly glad I never had to play against him!

That strength is also in his nature. He’s not a manager to be messed with.

If he is, the players will find there’s only one winner.

Thankfully Sir Alex seems to have come through his health scare after surgery following a brain haemorrhage and may well be fit and well for the start of next season.

I was speaking to him only days before, a conversation in which I made the point that coaches do not always manage, whereas managers can always coach.

Sir Alex completely agreed and fortunately it was not too late for Southampton to show they realised that by replacing Mauricio Pellegrino with Mark Hughes.

Football people on and off the terraces, all around the world were hoping Sir Alex would pull through.

We’ve known each other for many years, since he was number two to my old friend Jock Stein with the Scottish national team.

He’s very down to earth and knowledgeable as well as being a great manager and has proved that by giving lectures at Harvard University and representing organisations such as Uefa.

I sent a card to his house and my PS was ‘let’s hope you win again in Fergie time like you have done so often in the past’!

Such is his popularity, it was touching to hear Arsene Wenger, who I also greatly admire and respect, pay his compliments to someone who was probably his fiercest rival in the game.

Arsene showed the respect he deserves and we all have for him.

I’m sure we’ll see both of them fit and well at games next season.