Thomas Tuchel told Chelsea to “strengthen” in the wake of the 2-1 Premier League defeat at Southampton.
Romeo Lavia and Adam Armstrong fired the Saints for a well-deserved win at St Mary’s Stadium, inflicting Chelsea’s second defeat in their first five league games.
Raheem Sterling scored his third goal in two games to give Chelsea the lead early on, but the visitors’ dominance faded worryingly when the Saints won.
Frustrated Chelsea boss Tuchel complained of two “soft, soft, soft” goals before challenging his players to strengthen their mentality.
“We are not strong enough to win these games right now, away from home,” said Tuchel.
“It’s kind of the same story as in (3-0 defeat to) Leeds. In Leeds we thought the problem was that we didn’t score in the first 20, 25 minutes.
“They got us off balance with two goals in two minutes at Leeds and we couldn’t find any answers.
“We scored today, so we thought it was all right, but still a free kick, still a sloppy defense and we are out of balance.
“And today we didn’t react; we were lucky not to concede the third goal.
“We weren’t strong enough as a team to react or push the limits for us.”
Asked to review the goals Chelsea conceded, Tuchel continued: “Soft, soft, soft. What stops him? Stop it out of pure mentality. Stop it out of pure mentality.
There is no superiority for the opponent, there is no need to pull away, there is no need.
“Just strengthen as a team. And it shows the mindset. This is my assessment today.
“I don’t like talking about it normally because you can’t prove it with data, body position or tactical position in defeat. But it is so.
“Both goals are cheap goals, soft goals and shouldn’t happen if you expect to win a Premier League match, a night match and an away match.
“With our demands and the ambitions we have, it is even more important if we are missing key players that we have to show a different mentality.
“It is not enough right now to be defeated at Southampton. There is no shame, we are humble enough to accept that we can lose football matches.
“But it is too easy to push us off the track, it is too easy to win challenges, it is too easy to make fun of us”.
Southampton were left to toast a famous win, with a rowdy crowd delighting in overturning the 2021 Champions League winners.
Defender Armel Bella-Kotchap summed up the Saints’ youthful exuberance with a refined and demanding performance, leaving manager Ralph Hasenhuttl happy.
“When you see the physical quality he has, he’s perfect for the Premier League,” Hasenhuttl said. “And this is what we were hoping for in the summer.
“I was wondering more if he had the right mindset, but it looks like the Premier League is so interesting to him and he’s completely focused.
“The atmosphere tonight was sensational. This took us in the last 15 minutes when we were under pressure at times.
All very positive except for a worrying hamstring injury for Romeo (Lavia), who hopefully won’t be out for too long ”.