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Southampton to appoint new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl as he agrees three-year deal to replace sacked Mark Hughes

Southampton have agreed a three-year deal to make Ralph Hasenhuttl their new manager.

The Saints sacked Mark Hughes on Monday after a spell in charge that saw him win just three league matches, culminating in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Saturday night.

And they have moved swiftly to replace him with the Austrian Hasenhuttl.

The 51-year-old has been out of work since leaving Bundesliga side RB Leipzig at the end of last season.

Southampton have worked quickly to secure his signature, having also sounded out former Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores and Paulo Sousa over a possible appointment.

It is expected that Hasenhuttl will take charge of Southampton for the first time this weekend, when they face Cardiff in a battle between two relegation threatened sides.

Caretaker Kelvin Davis will still be in charge for the game against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.

Hasenhuttl took charge of Leipzig between 2016 and 2018, leading the club into the Champions League for the first time.

He has also previously managed Ingolstadt, Aalen and Unterhaching.

During his playing career, he represented Austria Vienna, Austria Salzburg and Bayern Munich II before retiring in 2004.


Who is Ralph Hasenhuttl?

As a floppy haired striker for Austria Vienna, the 51-year-old picked up several league titles in his homeland before becoming something of a Bundesliga journeyman in the second half of his playing career.

His coaching career only took off at his second attempt, as he led lowly VfR Aalen into the German second division before moving to Ingolstadt and hauling them into the top flight.

It was at RB Leipzig, though, that Hasenhuttl became a household name. Tasked with keeping the freshly promoted side in the Bundesliga, he led them to second place in his first season and secured Europa League football in his second.

Why didn’t he stay at Leipzig if he was so successful?

Having enjoyed two seasons of Bundesliga success and a run to the Europa League quarter-finals under Hasenhuttl, the fans were still singing his name at the end of last season.

Yet tactics, transfer policy and long-winded contract negotiations had seen Hasenhuttl’s relationship to sporting director Ralf Rangnick rapidly deteriorate.

Come the summer, it was clear the two men could no longer work together, and Hasenhuttl had to go.

What kind of coach is he?

Hasenhuttl has often been compared to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and even earned the nickname ‘Klopp of the Alps’ while at Ingolstadt. Like Klopp, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and is not averse to the occasional display of touchline emotion.

He is also much more at home in a tracksuit than a shirt and tie. After he donned a suit for Leipzig’s Champions League debut last season, Hasenhuttl admitted that his players had laughed at him in the dressing room. Tactically, too, he is a man after Klopp’s own heart, setting his teams up to press energetically and seek a direct route to goal.

Yet Hasenhuttl is less of a showman than the Liverpool boss. A more reserved character in press conferences and more of a disciplinarian on the training pitch, Hasenhuttl is more likely to give critics an icy stare than a disarming joke.

How do his teams play?

Underdogs Ingolstadt were something of a destructive force under Hasenhuttl, and they scrapped and snarled their way to unexpected survival in their first year in the Bundesliga. Yet Hasenhuttl naturally tends towards attacking football, and he was able to truly unleash those instincts at Leipzig.

Built around the tenacity and class of Naby Keita in midfield, his Leipzig side surprised the Bundesliga with exhilarating, pacy football in his first season.

Ferocious counter-pressing, excellent transitional play and the raw pace and deadly finishing of Timo Werner made Leipzig a match for any team on their day.

Will he hold his own in the Premier League?

In theory, the pace and openness of modern Premier League football should suit Hasenhuttl well.

His only problems at Leipzig came later in his tenure, as opposing teams started to set up defensively and he struggled to push through a more possession-based approach. When his team are the underdogs and there is space to counter-attack, he should flourish tactically.

Southampton fans, meanwhile, can draw hope from Hasenhuttl’s record. At both Aalen and Ingolstadt, the Austrian took over with the club in the relegation zone. At both clubs, it took him just 18 months to turn misery into magic and lead them to promotion.

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