INSTILLING belief in his players has been a bigger factor in Saints’ recent improvement than tactical changes.

That is the view of Ralph Hasenhuttl, as Saints aim to continue their recent run of 16 points from eight games against a Leicester side that beat them 9-0 at St Mary’s little more than two months ago.

“Always, there is the psychological part,” said Hasenhuttl, who has overseen Saints recent improvement with a returned to the 4-2-2-2 formation that is “very similar” to the one he used at RB Leipzig.

But he continued: “It was not about the shape, more about the behaviour, about the fundamentals, the basics. If you find this again, you can build up again.

“Then you need a few good results and then the belief there. If you have the belief then everything is possible.

“It took a long time to not only get the right shape but the right behaviour in this shape.

“And this is a lot about being brave and on the front foot. It’s not enough to show them and speak about this, it’s to live this system and live this behaviour.

“It took a long time and finally in the last month I had the feeling that it clicked in the minds. You could feel it.

“Every player is now absolutely convinced about what we are doing. Even against the big teams we play with a back four, we changed the shape and the game plan was successful.”

Hasenhuttl says his team was ‘on the wrong way’ until the 2-1 defeat at home to Everton on November 9.

“In the international break, we pushed a few buttons and I think they were the right ones,” he said.

“We are concentrating more on the counter-pressing, the behaviour after losing the ball, immediately trying to win the ball back,” he continued.

“We lost this immediately in the first month of the season.

“It was not really depending about the shape, it was a behaviour.

“You have to have automatism as a player and in that moment you could feel, OK, the belief is coming back.”

Saints’ return to form began with the 2-2 draw at the Emirates in the first match after the international break, on November 23.

“The result against Arsenal was an important one, where we took a point, then we won two home games.

“Even against Newcastle and West Ham where we lost, we played good games.

“Then over Christmas the period was very successful and now we are in a better position. We’re still not in the feeling that we are safe now, no.

“We have still the feeling that we are the hunter and not getting hunted.”

Meanwhile, Hasenhuttl has thanked his fellow managers for the support he received after Saints’ 9-0 humbling.

Leicester boss Brednan Rodgers was message his support afterwards and Hasenhuttl was grateful for his and others’ backing.

He said: “I got a lot of messages after this game from big managers and I must say thank you for the support I got on this evening. It was unbelievable for me.

“I showed the players that if this is the reaction, then it’s not a negative moment, it’s a positive moment to know ‘OK, now we see it clear and now we have to change it’.

“It was a chance everybody took with both hands and this is a positive thing. We were absolutely on the wrong path but we learned a lot.

“When you have such a result, it is a chance to turn something to a positive.”