Mauricio Pellegrino has called on his players to give Saints fans the reaction they crave after seeing his team given a Boxing Day hammering at Wembley.

Saints were thrashed 5-2 by Tottenham, plunging them ever nearer the bottom three and with supporters starting to turn on the manager and members of the team.

There are just a few days for the squad to pull together ahead of a tough trip to face Manchester United at Old Trafford, and Pellegrino is desperate for a positive response.

He said: “The fans got the same feeling that we have.

“Everybody comes to the pitch to try to see this team giving everything and try to win points and win games but sometimes this is the game. The defeat and the bad moment is part of our life.

“People want to see the reaction, the spirit and aggression of the players fighting for every single ball until the end.

“We did this second half and we have to show this from the beginning and not just after the first and second goal.”

Pellegrino’s own position is starting to come under close scrutiny, with elements of the fanbase starting to turn on him.

“Hopefully yes,” he replied when asked if he can turn it around.

“I think difficult moments like today it’s important to know how people react and the people who can show character.

“Football is a game that the difficult situation you realise how is the people really in his character and which are the players that want to fight for the club 100 per cent.

“This type of situation helps me to draw this type of conclusion.”

Pellegrino went with a back four at Tottenham, a decision which drew much criticism, but defended himself.

“We can play also with three centre backs and full backs but I decide to play like this with Jack Stephens at right full back and Matt. Cedric and Ryan have different qualities and we prefer to put more people in the middle to play higher,” he said.

“Those players don’t need too many chances to convert.

“We paid the price.”

Saints look increasingly like they are being sucked towards a relegation fight for the remainder of the season, and Pellegrino reckoned: “Last season between eighth and the last one six or seven points.

“The Premier League now is really tight and there are ten teams really close in five or six points.

“I know we are in a difficult situation but we need a couple of results to try to change the mood and show our best version on the pitch.”

While many of the headlines after the Tottenham game were reserved for the record breaking exploits of Harry Kane, there was a more worrying storyline for Saints.

“I think against this side we made a lot of mistakes that we cannot,” reflected Pellegrino.

“Obviously in the second half we react well, we create a couple of chances to be on the game but after the third one it was really difficult for us to bounce back and be in the game.

“At least we show another face.

“I know it’s difficult to digest five goas and this type of game up and down until the end but at least we show another reaction which we had to do from the beginning.

“Against those players you cannot play too easy like for example the first 30 minutes.”

He added: “I think that the early goal was a smash for our players.

“I think the second half I repeat we have had the Mario chances and Shane Long one v one to try and be on the game but we couldn’t.

“Also in the first possibility they scored the third one and it was really difficult for us to bounce back and our goals came a little bit late.”