Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted he is “thankful” for not being sacked after Southampton climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Norwich.
Saints boss Hasenhuttl celebrated a year in charge of the south-coast club with a precious second successive top-flight win.
First-half goals from Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand earned the three points at St Mary’s as Southampton followed up Saturday’s success over bottom club Watford and a draw at Arsenal to move to 17th place in the table.
Austrian Hasenhuttl endured a torrid recent run, which included an eight-game winless streak in the league and a 9-0 humiliation by high-flying Leicester.
The former RB Leipzig coach, who succeeded Mark Hughes on December 5 last year, expressed gratitude for the backing he has received.
“It was not an easy last month or two months but a very important one for me as a manager,” said Hasenhuttl.
“I have never had a situation like this in my entire managing career with such a long time without winning.
“But I think in the end this experience is very important for me as a manager and I’m happy that I went through such a period and I’m thankful that the club is going a different way, not immediately thinking about sacking the manager, but supporting him.
“I must say thank you to everybody in the club that I could feel a big support in these moments and this is important for the future for this club.”
Southampton opened the scoring on home soil for the first time this season when in-form Ings rose to head home James Ward-Prowse’s 22nd-minute free-kick and score for the fourth successive game.
Set-piece specialist Ward-Prowse again proved his worth two minutes before half-time with a corner which Shane Long flicked on for Bertand to volley his first goal since August 2018.
Saints have not kept a clean sheet at St Mary’s all season and a lapse in concentration allowed Teemu Pukki to race clear and set up a nervy final 25 minutes with a rising left-footed shot.
But the hosts hung on and, with Everton losing the Merseyside derby to Liverpool, the result was sufficient to lift them out of the drop zone.
Hasenhuttl believes his team have regained their identity.
“I think it was by far the best game we showed at home this season,” he said.
“It was maybe important that we lift out of the relegation zone.
“We see how quickly things change in football and still very, very important games to come in the next weeks. These seven points we have now in the last three games is massive.
“More important for me is that we have found a way we want to play and that we found back our identity and this is more important than every win.”
Norwich remain 19th but are now four points from safety.
Canaries boss Daniel Farke felt his side paid the price for a poor first-half display and admits it will be an uphill battle to remain in the division.
“We are not Liverpool or Man City, (those) sides can sometimes allow themselves to have a slow start or a slow half and they can still react because they have unbelievable qualities,” he said.
“But we are a newly-promoted side, who hardly spent any money in the summer and we have to be the top of our game in each and every second in order to be competitive.
“The slow start was pretty costly.
“We are probably the favourites for position 20 in this league. We have to be realistic.”