Considering Southampton lost 9-0 to Leicester City and Manchester United in successive seasons and that results have slowly declined as a whole over the last three years at St. Mary’s Stadium on the south coast of England, you could argue that Austrian Ralph Hasenhüttl is lucky to still be managing in the Premier League — especially when you factor in the harsh realities of modern-day football.
Yet, here he is entering his fourth full season as the Saints’ head coach after faring no better than 15th for the last two campaigns in a row. For many, that shows a lack of ambition from the club’s hierarchy. Too many clubs seem happy to come up to the Premier League and just about keep their heads over the water of relegation, but eventually that comes back to bite you — just ask Burnley, whose goal was the same.
The general consensus is that something does need to change at St. Mary’s this season or Southampton could be on a long, winding round back to the Championship come May. They are amongst the favourites for relegation in the football betting, and that can only spell bad news for Hasenhüttl, whose side lost 4-1 to a rejuvenated Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the 2022-23 season.
Not only are the Saints backed for the drop, but the former RB Leipzig boss is the market leader in the dreaded sack race — meaning his days donning that unmistakable Southampton tracksuit and cap on the touchline of Premier League stadia up and down the country have got to be numbered.
To make matters worse for Hasenhüttl, that are fresh reports that he has lost the Southampton dressing room — with it believed several Saints stars are unhappy that the 55-year-old was not sacked in the summer after mustering just nine victories in total and losing 10 of their final 13 matches in the league last season.
That dire end to the campaign didn’t go unpunished though. Hasenhüttl’s response was to sack his entire coaching staff, most notably bringing in Rubén Sellés as his new assistant from Danish champions Copenhagen.
But that ruthlessness from the Austrian doesn’t seem to have been enough to convince his players and supporters alike that he is still the man for the job.
The board, whether through that lack of ambition we mentioned earlier or not seeing a suitable replacement on the market, appear to be in no hurry to get rid of Hasenhüttl. It’s a decision that should have been made earlier in the summer, instead the club’s new Serbian billionaire owner Dragan Solak has backed him by spending £50 million on new recruits.
Games against Leeds United, Leicester City, Manchester United and Chelsea before the end of the month could spell the end for the Austrian. He will surely have to get points from the games against Leeds and Leicester before back-to-back ties against members of the big six, or he will face even more unrest from his players and the home support at St. Mary’s.
It has got to be only a matter time for Hasenhüttl is moved on and someone new is brought in on the south coast. He has clearly taken this side as far as he possibly can and he is running out of options as well as time.