Ralph Hasenhüttl is no stranger to overseeing positive and enthusiastic football squads.
Ahead of joining Saints in 2018, the Austrian had previously guided both VfR Aalen (3.Liga) and FC Inglostadt 04 (2. Bundesliga) to promotion in Germany.
Alongside those respective 2011-12 and 2014-15 successes, Hasenhüttl also saw his RB Leipzig side consistently challenging Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga.
Its therefore safe to assume that, with such vast managerial experience, the Austrian can be deemed an expert judge of character and atmosphere.
With seven wins from 12 games this season, including back-to-back victories over Brighton & Hove Albion and Sheffield United, Saints are currently in the midst of one of their best ever Premier League campaigns.
Certainly, in terms of securing results, confidence within Hasenhüttl's St. Mary's squad has never been higher.
"Surprisingly everyone tells us he is is fit and wants to play again. It's normal when a team is successful. Nobody thinks they're tired." the Austrian told the media, ahead of Wednesday's visit to the Emirates Stadium.
This season is Hasenhüttl's fourteenth in football management, so what does he think of the current atmosphere at St. Mary's, compared to some of his previous Clubs?
Speaking to Total Saints, Hasenhüttl said “Yes, I know this situation, I mean, now with this team you can feel it, the atmosphere, the positive belief."
"But I must say that the interesting thing in this squad is that when you go in the dining room and see them moving around the salt and the pepper, and speaking about the shape, or something like that, this is something new for me also."
"They are really focused on what we are doing here. There is a very good mentality in this squad at the moment."
The Austrian continued, "They enjoy it because I think we all went through a very difficult time together, where it didn’t work. We changed really the mentality now completely in the Club."
"We don’t want to be the relegating team anymore and this was our biggest goal, to come away from this one time winning and then again falling back in our behaviours and, yes, making us more than we are."
"We want to achieve more for what we invest and therefore we had to develop every part of our game and, because we did it together and because everybody, or every player, had a moment where he was sitting outside and watching, they are now much more, yes, part of this group, I think, and more committed, because they all have been once in the same situation that we are out of the team, so they have very good commitment now."
Hasenhüttl finished by saying, "The squad is a good size, not to big, everybody is important for the team. We tell them this, they know this and they feel it hopefully also and then it can grow something. And this situation where you have the feeling there is something growing, I spoke about that before the season, in this situation I have been, yes, nearly every time in every Club I have been so far."
With games against Arsenal (16/12), Manchester City (19/12) and Liverpool (04/01) over the next couple of weeks, maintaining optimism within the Austrian's squad will be key, especially if results dip slightly.
If Saints can get through a tough looking Christmas schedule without too many problems, the signs for 2021 look very promising.
In the meantime, dining staff at Staplewood will be under strict orders to make sure all salt and pepper shakers are fully sanitised, readying them for some more strategic repositioning!
Article by Ben Stanfield
(Photos by Getty Images and Matt Watson, Southampton FC)