RALPH Hasenhuttl believes bravery and commitment were the key factors to his side's stellar finish to the season, which saw him named Premier League manager of the month.

Saints jumped up to 11th in the final standings after an unbeaten July, a run which included three victories and three draws.

Manchester City and Sheffield United were among the scalps for Hasenhuttl's men, who also bagged an impressive last-gasp draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Hasenhuttl fought off competition from Pep Guardiola, David Moyes, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to clinch the manager of the month award for the first time, and he was pleased his side got some credit for their fine form.

Speaking to the Saints website, the boss, who turns 53 today, said: "I'm very proud for my team and for the whole club to be honest.

"Everybody did a fantastic job in July and it was a hard goal to come back very strong after the lockdown and it's wonderful that everybody recognised what we did and what a good job we did.

"As a manager always the most important thing is to go your way and be successful with your team and if you can manage this, and we did it in a fantastic way in July, then it makes life much easier and the work much easier."

Discussing the hectic schedule throughout July, which also included matches against Everton, Brighton and Bournemouth, Hasenhuttl added: "I think it was a very, very intense month to be honest.

"We knew that we only had a short time to prepare for the season (restart) and I think we used the time in a very, very good way. From the first day you could feel that the guys were coming back in a good shape and we could immediately work on a few deficits we have seen in the very intense analysis of the season to that point.

"I think we played very brave and tried to make the next step in our development. In the end we got good results because we played brave and were very committed."

Reflecting on the two standout results of the month, against both Manchester clubs, Hasenhuttl said: "I think it was important for us, especially against Man City at home, to show ourselves and be able to compete against such a team.

"It's still unbelievable that we get a win against such a team and nearly every player played fantastic and otherwise it's impossible to win against such a team.

"Against Man Utd I think we were still one step further in our development and, especially the first 20 minutes, we were fantastic for an away game. Like always in the season in away games, against an in-form team and in the end I think it was a deserved point to be fair.

"We like to play against these strong teams. They really show us what we have to learn and how good we are."

Saints returned from lockdown 14th in the league table, seven points clear of the relegation zone, and knew after defeating Norwich in their first game back, they were effectively assured of another season in the top-flight.

But the boss praised the way his side did not take their foot off the pedal to power up to 11th, eventually ending 18 points clear of the bottom three.

"It was a strange situation without a crowd in the stadium, but my team was very hungry and likes to hunt," he said.

"It didn't seem that we don't play for anything because we were 12th or 13th in the league, we tried to climb every position that was possible and in the end I think position 11 after a very difficult autumn, was something nobody expected in the end.

"There are still enough positions to climb next season and hopefully we have a better start so we can end in a higher ranking than we did this season."