Why Hasenhuttl can keep Southampton in the Premier League
Dave Burin | 14 January 2019
Early signs suggest Ralph won’t wreck it
Southampton were in dire straits before Ralph Hasenhuttl’s arrival in December.
Winless in 10 Premier League games before Mark Hughes got the boot, that run had included defeats to fellow strugglers Fulham and Cardiff City.
But the South Coast club have made sustained progress since the Austrian gaffer’s arrival. And Saturday’s victory at Leicester City finally saw them exit the relegation zone.
While nobody is expecting miracles at St Mary’s, they should now beat the drop – and have drifted to 8/1 to be relegated. Here’s why the new boss is turning it around…
He’s getting the best from Redmond
Despite joining Saints in 2016 for a fee of over £12m, it’s fair to say that one-time England international Nathan Redmond hasn’t really fulfilled his promise. Until now.
Hasenhuttl has swiftly converted the winger to an attacking midfield role, and it’s already paying dividends.
In the Austrian’s eight games at the helm, Redmond has racked up four goals and a couple of assists in all competitions – including Danny Ings’ goal in the 3-2 defeat of Arsenal. By contrast, he netted just once in the Prem in the 2017-18 season.
His work-rate has also improved. Last season, he made 32 tackles in the entire Prem campaign. This term he’s already on 25 – a large chunk of those since Hasenhuttl’s arrival.
Three at the back is working nicely
It’s not just Redmond who’s shifted position. The former RB Leipzig manager has quickly set about changing Saints’ tactical make-up.
The 51-year-old has gone with three in defence of late. That’s switched between a 3-4-3 system (used in the 3-2 triumph over Arsenal) and the 3-4-2-1 which delivered away wins at Huddersfield Town and Leicester City.
Admittedly, they have shipped seven goals in the last five league games (or 1.4 per game). However, that’s significantly lower than the 26 they’d shipped in 14 Prem games under Hughes (or 1.86 per game).
With Redmond and Stuart Armstrong tucked in behind Ings (or Shane Long in his absence), they also have midfield pace and trickery to compliment either of the experienced finishers up top.
He’s a savvy spender
It remains to be seen how much cash Saints will splash in this window, if they spend at all. However, they now have a gaffer who knows his way around the transfer market.
Snapping up Timo Werner in 2016 for a shade under £15m when Leipzig boss, was just one example.
He also pulled off the hugely successful loan of Ademola Lookman from Everton last season, in addition to the signing of revitalised midfield maestro Kevin Kampl.
If Saints chairman Ralph Krueger is willing to give his namesake funds, Premier League status would surely follow.
Next up for Saints is a home meeting with Everton on Saturday. A vital home win is 31/20 on this occasion. Meanwhile, a Saints victory with Both Teams to Score is 15/4 to happen for the fourth time in nine games.
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