The Saints registered a stunning win at Old Trafford on Sunday thanks to a second-half Dusan Tadic goal to move above the Red Devils into third place.
Although much of the talk before a ball was kicked this term surrounding the South Coast club was about a potential relegation struggle following the exits of key players, new manager Ronald Koeman has enjoyed a fine start to life at St Mary’s Stadium.
Losses to rivals such as Liverpool, Spurs and United over the first half of the campaign led to claims that the Hampshire outfit may be unable to cope with the pressure of a Champions League push, yet a turnaround – encapsulated by the weekend win and a victory at home to Arsenal – has prompted suggestions they are genuine top four contenders.
And with Arsenal making up ground, Hoddle believes Southampton have the “belief” now, which could be key in the battle between themselves and United:
“Arsenal are coming on strong right now with a lot of their players returning at the right time,” he told Zapsportz.com. “Chelsea ad Manchester City are sure to be in the top four, which leaves it as a fight between United and Southampton, I believe.
“And there is every chance of Southampton coming out on top if they can keep going with a rare commodity that Koeman has given them – belief.
“You could see that belief running through the team at Old Trafford and that result will only strengthen that belief.
“The manager and the players are not shouting that from the roof tops and that’s also a good sign. They will keep that belief in house and this could prove to be one of the biggest surprises of this or an other season… going from favourites for relegation to a Champions league spot after losing their manager and so many top players.”