ORIOL Romeu believes this summer will be crucial if Saints are to propel themselves up next season’s table.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side secured Premier League with two games remaining but managed just one win from their final seven matches.

And Romeu thinks the work they do when they return from their holidays will play a huge part in shaping their campaign.

“That [pre-season] is going to be something we have to do better,” said Romeu.

“We didn’t get enough points in our last few games and we weren’t creating enough chances either. That is something that, as a whole team, we are going to have to improve.

“We have shown that if we aren’t on it, or aren’t at our best, then we can’t beat anyone.

“It’s really important to work in pre-season and to work a lot with the manager, who will help us to start in a good way.”

Saints’ draw with Huddersfield on the last day of the season meant they ended up with a league-high 29 points dropped from leading positions.

Had they held onto at least 15 of those, Hasenhuttl’s side would have finished ninth as opposed to 16th.

Romeu added: “That’s something where if we defend and keep the lead better then we will get more points, but if we didn’t concede goals we would be finishing in the top four.

“We cannot see the future.

“We just have to do our work, do our best, and follow the manager’s way to be where we want to be.”

With the transfer window now open, Hasenhuttl will have the chance to start building a Saints team in his vision.

This could mean several outgoings paired with two or three quality incomings.

And given there are a host of midfielders competing for a limited number of starting places, the Saints chief could look to strengthen in defence and up front.

Shane Long was the only striker to score for the St Mary’s side in 2019, with James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond often getting the team out of trouble.

Romeu believes Saints have come on leaps and bounds over recent months but have lacked a clinical edge.

“I’m not the one to say we need players here and there, as we need to improve a lot as a team. We have improved a lot defensively over the last few months and I think we are a lot stronger now.

“It’s harder to beat us now and it’s harder for us to concede goals but we are probably not making enough chances to score.

“We need to better with that.

“The chances are created by the whole team and the higher you are up the pitch, the more chances you can make.

“If you move the ball quickly from the back, the strikers get more time to score goals. That’s from the whole team and I think that’s how we need to improve.”

It’s proven to be an indifferent season for Romeu. He found himself out of favour with former boss Mark Hughes for no apparent reason, playing only eight times before the Welshman received the axe in December.

Since then, he has become a linchpin in the Hasenhuttl midfield.

Romeu knows his role and has no qualms in delivering what he is asked to do. He breaks up attacks and then passes the ball forward.

The former Chelsea player also showed he is able to find the back of the net during the 2-0 home win against Fulham.

But, despite the early season struggles, Romeu was thrilled with how the campaign ended.

He added: “If you asked me at the beginning of the season, I would have wanted to have played more games.

“But the way we have finished means that the objective has been achieved and that is the main thing.

“That’s something that I can take as a positive but obviously there is a part of the season that hasn’t been positive for me in performing well enough. Hopefully next season, I can be more regular.”

The midfielder is now enjoying a well-earned break, before getting ready to do it all over again next season.

“It’s been tiring – especially mentally.

“It’s also been physically tiring throughout the season and now it’s great to have some time off and to go home and share some time with family and friends.

“Then we will be back again and hungry for next season, which will be very tough, but we are positive about it.”