The turnaround at Southampton by Ralph Hasenhüttl has been nothing short of extraordinary. The Saints have gone from a 9-0 mauling at the hands of Leicester City to defeating and keeping a clean sheet against the former Premier League champions, Manchester City. It was one of the most embarrassing nights in Southampton’s history as they conceded two hat-tricks and nine goals in total in front of the on-watching home supporters.
But, despite the embarrassment, ask Hasenhüttl if he’d go back and change things and the answer will likely be a firm no, because what was a devastating night was also a crucial lesson and a deciding factor in the Saints terrific turnaround.
The Man Behind Southampton’s Turnaround: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Southampton’s Trust in Hasenhüttl Has Been the Key
The easy action to take after the 9-0 loss would have been to show the exit door to Hasenhüttl. It is an action that Southampton have taken on so many occasions before in much less urgent situations. Claude Puel led the Saints to an eighth-place finish and a League Cup runners up medal yet, after just one season in charge, he faced the sack. And, with Hasenhüttl’s side in the relegation zone, his dismissal wouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Instead, going against the normal cycle of football, Southampton chose to trust Hasenhüttl; they decided to trust his ability and character to drag them to safety. With that trust came much-needed results. Since the record defeat, the Saints have bounced back remarkably, avenging their record loss in the process with a 2-1 victory over Leicester at their own ground, and also defeating Tottenham Hotspur along the way. The win at Leicester sums up the turnaround, too, as Hasenhüttl’s men went full circle to make for an incredibly written narrative.
The Only Way is Up
Southampton now sit 13th, three points away from the top half, after looking relegation bound in the latter stages of 2019. Ralph Hasenhüttl has done an incredible job in the face of so much doubt and, with the likes of Danny Ings by his side, the only way is up.
Hasenhüttl perfectly combines the passion and tactical know-how needed at Southampton to replicate the previous successes of Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman. In Ings, too, he has a ruthless and vital goalscorer whose goals have, at times, singlehandedly taken Southampton to victory and will continue to take the Saints up the table.
What could have so easily been a season of despair for Southampton has turned into one of promise and hope for the future with a world-class manager at the forefront.