Southampton have decided to sack their manager Ralph Hasenhüttl. Sunday’s 4 – 1 home defeat left the South Coast side in the bottom three, and it is felt that a change is needed to prevent the club becoming involved in a protracted relegation battle.
There had been some question as to whether to delay such a decision until after the Premier League season breaks for the World Cup.
But they have taken the decision to act now, believing that it in the best interests of the club.
It is unlikely though; they will have anybody in place before their final match before then – a trip to face Liverpool at Anfield next weekend. First team coach Ruben Selles will take charge of the team for their Carabao Cup home tie with Sheffield Wednesday, and he will likely lead the team on Merseyside.
The Austrian’s highs and lows
When Austrian Hasenhüttl was appointed manager to succeed Mark Hughes, the club were 18th in the table, the same position in which they find themselves now. He managed to steer them to safety, and then they finished 11th in the table in his first full season in charge.
The following campaign they eventually ended up 15th, but, at the start of it, briefly topped the Premier League for the first time in its history.
However, on his watch, the team has also twice suffered the equal highest biggest defeat in the history of the league. In October 2019, they were thrashed 9 – 0 at home by Leicester City and went down by the same score line to Manchester United at Old Trafford 16 months after that.
A lack of goals
Despite bringing in numerous players during the summer, and an overhaul of the coaching staff, one of the problems this season has been a lack of goals, just 12 so far in 14 league games. They have yet to find anybody who can produce for them in the penalty area as Armando Broja did for them last season, before he returned to his parent club Chelsea.
They have also leaked goals at the other end, conceding 24 so far.
Who might replace him
An early candidate to replace Hasenhüttl is Nathan Jones, currently in charge of Championship side Luton Town. The 49-year-old is in his second spell with the Bedfordshire and has credit in the bank after leading them to the Championship play-offs last season. They lost over two legs to Huddersfield Town in the semi-final.
It is reported that Luton will allow Southampton to talk to Jones after their Championship match in mid-week against Stoke.
The Premier League’s revolving door
Hasenhüttl is the fifth Premier League manager already this season to lose his job. First out of the door was Scott Parker at neighbouring Bournemouth followed by Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea.
Wolves then relieved Bruno Lage of his responsibilities, with West Midlands rivals Aston Villa doing the same to Steven Gerrard.
They are unlikely to be the last; the average number of managerial changes in a Premier League season in recent years has averaged between 9 and 11.
Both Brendan Rodgers at Leicester and Jesse Marsch at Leeds seemed in danger of joining the sack race, but recent results have probably bought the pair some time. Meanwhile, Steve Cooper at Nottingham Forest, despite leading the current bottom side, was recently rewarded with a new three-year deal.
Managers across Europe will be getting nervous
It is not only in the Premier League that the managerial axe might fall. All across Europe, the pause for the World Cup is giving club directors time for a reset and to consider their options before the second half of the campaign.
It is expected that a number of them will take the opportunity to make the change, knowing that the new appointees will have the benefit of several weeks with their new players before the action gets underway again.
What next for Hasenhüttl?
Although this undoubtedly a personal setback for Hasenhüttl, it does not necessarily mean the end of his career. He is likely to find another job, and may even find himself back in the Premier League one day.
After all Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal, but, after rehabilitating his career with Villarreal, was recently hired by Aston Villa to replace Steven Gerrard. He marked his second coming by seeing his new charges beat Manchester United in his first game in charge at Villa Park on Sunday.
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