In the face of defeat you sometimes have to work hard to find the positives. That is particularly true for a manager who needs to try and inspire his players to keeping believing when they are potentially crestfallen.

But finding positives from Saints’ 3-2 defeat to Manchester United may well be the easiest task Ralph Hasenhuttl has faced since taking over at St Mary’s.

In the build-up to the game he called on his team to be brave at Old Trafford and, wow, were they brave.

On the ball, in their spirit and approach to the game, in their never say die attitude. They deserved more than the defeat which they ultimately got from a hugely entertaining game of football.

Of all the positives to come from this remarkable performance is the knowledge that they are looking increasingly likely to secure Premier League safety.

Though no further inroads were made in terms of the table, the way they showed such discipline to secure victory against Fulham and then gave United such a run for their money suggests the team are finding improvements again at a time when they had just started to wane.

The most crucial thing is for Saints to try and keep their heads above the bottom three going into the three-week break which follows Saturday’s game against Tottenham.

At that stage Liverpool will be the only top six team they have left to face, while Cardiff have a very tough run-in to contend with. If Saints get through this period still above the Welsh side then they should be very confident.

They should take pride in the manner of their performance at Old Trafford too. Certainly the vociferous away support were.

It is one thing to take a lead at Manchester United due to a wonder strike out of nowhere, but it is another to hit back again after your opponents have turned things around to lead.

Saints did exactly that, and in the end it required a late strike to beat them, not to mention that they should have had a first half penalty.

Hasenhuttl will again be encouraged that goals continue to come throughout the side.

Ward-Prowse’s free kick made it five in his last eight Premier League games, which is by far his best run. Yan Valery will do well to score a better goal than he did.

The Saints manager has already said he doesn’t place an emphasis on strikers to score goals, rather for those who get into position to deliver.

That may or may not be partly an attempt to take pressure of a frontline that is not contributing in that respect, but at least it seems to be working out, even if this time two goals were not quite enough.