Charlie Austin: Southampton have been 'naive' in season of struggles
Last Updated: 14/04/18 3:58pm
Charlie Austin has given a frank assessment of Southampton's struggles this season, saying players have been "naive" and thought they could just turn up in games.
After finishing eighth last year and reaching the Carabao Cup final, Saints have endured a dismal campaign as they have won only five games in the Premier League.
Ahead of their lunchtime clash with Chelsea on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, they are three points from safety with six matches left to play.
Reflecting on Saints' fall down the table, Austin, who has missed a large chunk of the season with injury, said: "Am I surprised? Yes, but we have under-performed and if you do that in the Premier League you find yourself slipping away.
"You say 'it won't happen to us, it won't happen to us, it won't happen to us' and the next minute you are in the bottom three. We have won five games, that's not good enough for a club like Southampton.
"As a group of players, it's been naive, thinking we can just turn up and it will happen - 'we'll be ok, we've got the players to get out of this mess' - and as the weeks have gone by we haven't made any progress.
"The bar has been set for Southampton over the last few years. Even last year we finished eighth and got to a cup final, which we were unlucky not to win. It's a learning curve for the players and the club but I feel if we stay in the Premier League it will be a good lesson learned for the club and the players. When you are in positions like this you do see who is hiding and who's not."
Having returned from injury, Austin has featured in Southampton's last two matches and scored in the 3-2 defeat to Arsenal last weekend.
He says the performance was good against the Gunners, but Saints now need to start picking up points to avoid relegation.
"Our season has come down to these last games.
"Top of our agenda is to stay in the Premier League and if we perform like we did against Arsenal we will give ourselves a great chance, but we are chasing, we haven't got the points.
"You need to stand up and be counted for. We put ourselves under this pressure and we need to take it on our shoulders and step out onto the pitch on Saturday and hopefully the fans will get right behind us as they have done all season. We need to get that result. It's six cup finals for us."
As well as facing Chelsea on Saturday, Saints also meet the Premier League champions in the semi-finals of the FA Cup next weekend.
Chelsea are 10 points outside the top four and have won just one of their last five Premier League matches.
"When you play a team like Chelsea you don't know what's going to happen," said Austin. "Their form has not been great, can we capitalise? I would like to think so, but you never know.
"They have quality all over the pitch. We need to take that performance that we had against Arsenal because that's the standard we set and hopefully we hit them on the bad day and we can get the result we need and put the pressure on the teams above us."
Watch Southampton v Chelsea live on Sky Sports from 11.30am on Saturday