Southampton football club have endured a horrid time as ofl ate, having barely avoided relegation last season and already sitting in the relegation zone as we near the halfway mark for this season
When former player Mark Hughes took over from Mauricio Pellegrino, who had lost 13, drawn 13 and won only 8 of his 34 matches in charge, Hughes’ aim was to secure safety for the Saints. They survived on the last day of the season thanks to a Stoke City victory away to Swansea City. Their survival wasn’t down to Hughes’ masterful tactics, but rather fortune that there were three teams worse than them in the league.
The New Season
Hughes remained in charge after the season ended and over the course of the summer, he added four new players to the squad. Stuart Armstrong arrived from Celtic in a £7 million deal, while the Saints also splashed out £13.5 million on young Manchester City goalkeeper Angus Gunn. Mohamed Elyounoussi joined from Swiss club FC Basel for £16 million and Jannik Vestergaard proved to be their biggest signing, as the defender joined from Borussia Mönchengladbach in a deal thought to be worth £18 million.
Southampton also saw several big names players, like Dušan Tadić, Jordy Clasie and Sofiane Boufal leave the club in this window, as they failed to live up to their price tags. Hughes was stamping his authority on the club and building a team to play his tactics in what he hoped would see a revival of his managerial career.
Unfortunately for Hughes, his Southampton side struggled for form and found themselves hovering around the relegation zone before the board acted and axed Hughes from his job just eight months after being hired. During Hughes’ time as Southampton manager, he won five of his 22 league games in charge, resulting in a win percentage of just 22.73.
The New Guy
Former RB Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhüttl has been named as the new manager of the Saints and prior to officially taking over, he saw his new club fall to a 3-1 defeat away to Tottenham Hotspur. His first game in charge was away to Cardiff Cardiff, but that ended in defeat as Callum Paterson scored the only goal of the game to help the original favourites for the drop climb to 14th; four points above the relegation zone.
Hasenhüttl’s record at previous club RB Leipzig should encourage the Southampton fans, particularly after he guided the German club to a second place finish in the Bundesliga in his first season in charge. The club were the third highest scorers with 66 goals and conceded the third fewest goals, with the defence conceding only 39 goals. Their goal difference was the joint third best along with Hoffenheim’s at +27.
With a win percentage of 49.39 while in charge at Leipzig, Southampton fans should hold some hope that their new manager can guide them to safety this season. If Hasenhüttl is provided with the funds in January to buy a few additions, then, with his record as a manager, Southampton could climb out of the drop zone before the season comes to a close.
Then will come the real test for the manager. Survival is one thing, but for a club that just a few years ago was challenging for a place in the Europa League, it will be an aim for the near future. Whether or not he has the ability to take the club that far remains to be seen, but for now, he has to help the club pick up some points against Arsenal, Huddersfield town,West Ham United and Manchester City in their remaining December fixtures. Their current squad certainly isn’t the strongest and if Hasenhüttl doesn’t add to it in January then the Saints could end up playing their arch-rivals Portsmouth in the Championship next season, assuming the Blues secure promotion from League One.
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