Saturday, May 25, 2019

Can Ralph Hasenhuttl break the relegation battle cycle at Southampton?

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 24 Apr 2019

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On Tuesday night, Southampton drew 1-1 with Watford to move on to 37 points in the Premier League. Striker Shane Long scored the quickest ever Premier League goal on seven seconds to give the team from the south coast a dream start.

A last-gasp Andre Gray goal rescued a point for the Hornets. However, the point in Hertfordshire took Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side six points clear of the relegation zone.

Close to safety

With just three Premier League games remaining for the teams at the foot of the table, Southampton are closing in on securing their Premier League status for next season.

Austrian boss Ralph Hasenhuttl looks set to achieve the team’s objective when the Saints appointed him of simply surviving the drop this season. Obviously, the former RB Leipzig boss came into the club mid-campaign, so it was not ideal.

However, he has changed the mood around the south coast club after a woeful spell under predecessor Mark Hughes.

Saints far more dangerous under Hasenhuttl

I remember when Southampton appointed the Austrian thinking that they had pulled off a big coup by capturing the Austrian’s signature. He had shown enough during his spell in charge of Leipzig to convince observers that he would be a success in the Premier League.

Hasenhuttl’s side at RB Leipzig was one of the best teams in the Bundesliga to watch. Their attacking and expansive style helped the club finish runners-up in their debut campaign in the German top-flight.

If Saints fans knew anything of the Austrian boss then they must have been excited to see how he would transform their teams’ style of play. Although Hasenhuttl will likely need a full pre-season and transfer window to implement his style to the full effect, the Saints have looked far more dangerous going forward than under Hughes.

I remember watching a few of Hughes’ games as Saints boss last season and in the early days of this season. The team from the south coast looked totally lacking in attacking ideas. However, the former Leipzig boss has got something out of them that Hughes failed to.

The likes of Shane Long and Nathan Redmond, who although not now prolific, are starting to look like far more dangerous attacking players than under Hughes.

Southampton can progress under Hasenhuttl

Southampton are now major outsiders to suffer relegation at odds of 200/1 this season. In real terms, the Saints will most be plying their trade in the Premier League next season.

It will be interesting to see what sorts of players that the Saints attempt to attract this summer. Maybe the team from the south coast can avoid the relegation battle next season and look further up the table.

For the last few seasons, the Saints have battled at the wrong end of the team after previous enjoying a few stable midtable and top-ten finishes in the Premier League. The team has just not been good enough to avoid the relegation battle in the last few seasons.

If the club back their boss in the transfer market this summer, then I have no doubts that the Saints will be in a far healthier position in the Premier League table this time next season.

In recent seasons, Southampton have gained a reputation as a springboard for bosses who want to move up in the football world. The likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman impressed at the south coast club before moving to more high-profile clubs.

In Hasenhuttl, Southampton have another highly-rated relatively young head coach, who can help move the club further. If he follows in the footsteps of impressing at St Mary’s then leaves for a bigger club, at least it will mean that he has been successful on the south coast.

However, for now, he will be concentrating on making the Saints mathematically safe and then turn his attention to strengthening his squad for next season, so Southampton can avoid another flirtation with the Championship.

Can Ralph Hasenhuttl help the Saints avoid a relegation battle next season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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