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Ralph Hasenhuttl out at Southampton

Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to reports that Southampton are prepared to sack Ralph Hasenhuttl after more than three years at the helm.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been fired by Southampton as the Austrian coach spent almost four years in charge at St Mary’s.

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After losing 4-1 at home to Newcastle on Sunday, Southampton are in the relegation zone as they have just three wins from 14 games this season and their alarming slump started at the end of the 2021-22 campaign. Among ever present teams in the Premier League in the calendar year of 2022 Southampton have taken the fewest points (31) of any team.

Hasenhuttl, 55, took Saints to an FA Cup semifinal and quarterfinal, plus 11th, 15th and 15th place finishes in his three full seasons in charge. He was hired in December 2018 and led them to safety that season and they’ve never really been in danger of being relegated despite being forced to sell players by previous owner Gao Jisheng (Sport Republic took charge in January 2022) and suffering two shocking 9-0 defeats in back-to-back seasons.

Assistant manager Ruben Selles will take charge for their League Cup game at home against third-tier Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday, while Southampton’s statement says they will “be announcing a permanent replacement in due course.”

Now felt like the right time for Ralph Hasenhuttl departure

New owners Sport Republic (fronted by Rasmus Ankersen, who masterminded Brentford’s rise) spent big money on talented youngsters this summer, plus overhauled Hasenhuttl’s coaching staff, but their failure to sign a clinical striker played a big role in Saints’ slow start to this season.

And ultimately Hasenhuttl’s demise.

But it’s a lot more complicated than that. Hasenhuttl had a very distinct style of play with his high-pressing and he got away from that this season as it all seemed muddled, stale and it was just time for a change as key injuries hit Saints hard and they missed big chances in attack and made big defensive mistakes. Five of their eight defeats so far have been by one goal and Saints haven’t been terrible. But they haven’t been great for a long time now either.

Sometimes it is the right time for a change and this decision seems best for all parties. And as we’ve seen at Wolves and Aston Villa in recent weeks, now is the time to make a change as the World Cup break will give the new manager a long time on the training ground to bed in new ideas.

Only Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Frank have been in their roles longer than Hasenhuttl when it comes to Premier League managers and he should be commended for his dedication to this job as he overhauled Saints’ entire academy system and built the club around his 4-2-2-2 philosophy.

The former RB Leipzig coach was liked by Southampton’s fans but a combination of his message no longer getting across, the club not backing him fully in the transfer market and the threat of being sucked into a relegation scrap has seen his time on the south coast come to an end.

Who’s next?

The favorite with the bookies is Luton Town boss Nathan Jones who has worked miracles on a shoestring budget at the second-tier side. He was previously hired by Stoke City just after they were relegated from the Premier League but that didn’t work out and he returned to Luton and has carried on his success there with the Hatters reaching the Championship playoffs last season and they’re in the mix to do the same this campaign.

Other names mentioned include Sean Dyche, Rafael Benitez and River Plate boss Marcelo Gallardo (who will leave as their boss this week) but it appears that Jones is the clear frontrunner.

Whoever comes in needs to be backed in the January window with a new strikeforce needed. Saints never replaced losing Danny Ings and Armando Broja (on loan from Chelsea) plugged that gap momentarily last season.

Despite all of the gloom around Saints right now, they have some very talented young players with Gavin Bazunu, Romeo Lavia, Armel Bella-Kotchap and Tino Livramento among the best youngsters in the Premier League.

If they can regain confidence, find a style of play that suits them best and add a few more goals to their game, Southampton should stay clear of relegation trouble.

That said, this is a huge moment for new owners Sport Republic and just 10 months into their ownership of the club, it is one they have to get absolutely spot on.

Follow @JPW_NBCSports