Ralph Hasenhuttl

Hasenhuttl
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Hasenhuttl signs new four-year contract at Southampton

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Ralph Hasenhuttl has handed Southampton a massive boost by signing a new four-year contract at the Premier League club.

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Hasenhuttl, 52, joined Saints in December 2018 and his high-pressing style of play has impressed fans and neutrals, although there have been a few bumps in the road along the way.

The low-point was the 9-0 home defeat to Leicester City in October but since then Hasenhuttl went back to basics with his tactics and the slate was wiped clean for most of his players. Saints went on a run of seven wins from 11 games from late November to January to drag themselves away from the relegation battle.

“This, for me, was a simple decision. Simple because of the relationship that I have built with the club, the players and the fans, and also because of the relationship they have built with me too,” Hasenhuttl said. “I said when I arrived at the club that we were at the beginning of a long journey, and also a journey that would bring emotion and hopefully enjoyment. We have already had some moments where we could celebrate together, and some that have been emotional and also challenging.

“The way we have handled this together as a group of people has been incredible for me, and I believe we now have strong foundations here that can allow us to take the next steps in our progress as a team… We value the same philosophies, and this is a big part of why I want to stay here, and I hope we can share in some very successful moments moving forward.”

This works out well for everyone. Saints need Hasenhuttl and vice versa, as the club stood by him when his side were battered by Leicester and were all over the place defensively earlier in the season. Since then there’s been a massive turnaround as Hasenhuttl’s high-pressing style has returned to Saints and they’ve won away at the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City.

Southampton currently sit seven points above the relegation zone with nine games of the 2019-20 season to go and Hasenhuttl’s young, hungry side have a string of games against teams battling against relegation to come.

This contract will give the playing squad certainty as Hasenhuttl only had one year left on his previous deal. Shane Long is expected to sign a contract extension soon too, while captan Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has one year on his contract but may be swayed to stay at Saints given Hasenhuttl will be sticking around.

The financial situation at Saints is a little unclear given that their majority owner Gao Jisheng has stated he will not bankroll signings and wants the club to be sustainable, so Hasenhuttl will likely have to rely on polishing plenty of gems from Saints’ famed academy to bring into the first team.

Providing Saints don’t collapse in the final games of the season, they will be in the Premier League next season and they will have stability with Hasenhuttl around as they can plan ahead. During the suspension of play, Hasenhuttl has been working on a virtual book for the entire academy system at Saints to follow and his style of play will now be present from their youth sides all the way up to the first team.

The ‘Klopp of the Alps’ has found his home on England’s south coast.

Saints on Storm Dennis-affected loss: ‘Lot of scrapping, fighting, not a lot of playing’

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Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard thought his side went unrewarded for a scrappy effort on a miserable day.

The weather was one thing, as Storm Dennis sent strong winds and fierce rain to the 2-1 loss to Burnley at St. Mary’s.

VAR’s decision not to overturn an ungiven penalty on the field is stuck firmly in Jannik Vestergaard’s craw.

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While manager Ralph Hasenhuttl wasn’t drawn into much of a discussion on the incident, saying, “It’s boring to discuss this to be honest, there is no clear line.”

Vestergaard was ready to share his thoughts.

“No explanations because the decisions are famously decided by the Video Assistant Referee,” he said. “I think it’s a pen. I don’t know what the exact rules but I think he had his arm wide of his body. The ref chose not to give it and we have to create more chances.”

Vestergaard also says the weather affected both teams and was sure the game wasn’t a spectacle of entertaining football (He was correct).

“It turned into quite a battle. Balls flying high in the wind, very very difficult to foresee where they would come down. Lot of fighting for second balls, technical mistakes. Lot of scrapping, lot of fighting, not a lot of playing. I don’t think it was a great game to watch. We tried to accept the circumstances and make the best of it.”

Saints have a nice run of fixtures ahead, but would’ve wanted and probably should’ve had a result on Saturday at home. With fifth place possibly being a Champions League spot, this one will sting for days.

Report: Southampton readying Hasenhuttl extension

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According to a report by Sam Wallace of The Telegraph, Southampton expects Ralph Hasenhuttl to sign a new contract soon and buy in to the long-term plan of the club.

The club is still a decent way from securing safety in the Premier League, but relegation at this point seems like a disaster-only scenario with the club sitting in 13th on 31 points, seven points clear of the relegation zone. Still, it seems like by Wallace’s report that Hasenhuttl is ready to commit to the club despite the small bit of uncertainty.

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The Austrian boss joined Southampton from RB Leipzig in December of 2018 and signed a contract through the summer of 2021. His capture was hailed as a coup by many with Southampton in the relegation zone and its future far from certain, but he guided the club to safety with a 16th place finish last season.

There was significant noise surrounding Hasenhuttl’s job security after the brutal 9-0 defeat to Leicester City back in October, part of an eight-game Premier League winless run that threatened to doom the club, but he was given faith and rewarded his bosses with a renewed energy in league play. Since the November international break, Southampton has lost just four times in 13 matches, earning 23 points and grabbing positive results against Chelsea and Tottenham plus revenge over Leicester City with an emotional 2-1 victory.

Wallace’s report states that an extension was in the works earlier this season, but after the heavy defeat to Leicester City, the Austrian himself decided to put talks on hold to right the ship. Now that things appear much steadier on the field, the club expects talks with Hasenhuttl to resume. Nothing is likely to be imminent in the immediate future, with Hasenhuttl and much of the club on February break, but there appears to be a feeling that he is ready to commit his future to the Saints.

While the 52-year-old theoretically could have used the club as a stepping stone given his success at achieving safety last season and the presumption of the same this campaign, the difficult October stretch seems to have knocked him down a peg and could be grateful to still have employment at Southampton, a loyalty he could pay back to the club with a new contract.

Hasenhuttl praises Saints resolve, slams festive schedule

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is another Premier League manager who is far from happy with the busy festive fixtures.

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Join the queue behind Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho, Herr Hasenhuttl.

Saints drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace at St Mary’s on Saturday, just 48 hours after their big win away at Chelsea on Boxing Day.

“You only have one day to rest. It’s unbelievable, we couldn’t prepare anything for this game. I don’t know what this schedule is about, we had no sessions to work on anything,” Hasenhuttl said. “For this reason, I think we did a good game. Mentally and physically, what the guys did today, was really tough. We were the better team and kept trying till the last minute. I think it’s not necessary to play today. If we don’t play till Wednesday again why don’t we just play Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday. I know Saturday is a big day for football but it’s not necessary.”

Focusing on his team and their display on the pitch against Palace, Saints started slowly but recovered well after falling behind and they were unlucky not to snatch a late win to make it three on the trot.

Hasenhuttl admitted he was “not unhappy” to grab a point in an even game.

“It’s a more than deserved point. We had the much bigger chances today and it was a good save from Moussa Djenepo. We kept on believing, we knew it was a difficult game against this opponent when you’re 1-0 down because they sit deep,” Hasenhuttl said. “The subs gave us a little bit boost, particularly Moussa Djenepo on the left. Danny Ings was very calm. We could feel that we could turn the game completely after that but we’re not unhappy with the point. It was similar to the game here last season against them. I felt the equaliser was deserved.”

Saints now have a tough stretch of games coming up against Tottenham, Wolves, Leicester, Liverpool and Palace again, but they sit four points above the relegation zone at the midway point of the season and that’s a lot better than it was looking for the last few months.

With Danny Ings now on 12 goals for the season, if he stays fit and Southampton continue to keep their current form, they should start to look at the top 10 rather than the bottom three. That said, with Watford and Norwich picking up big wins in recent weeks, it is getting tight at the bottom as we head into 2020.

Southampton hail ‘absolutely outrageous’ Ings

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Southampton’s savior this season has been local lad Danny Ings.

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He now has 11 goals in the Premier League so far this season, with seven in his last seven as he scored twice to set them up for a huge 3-1 win away at relegation rivals Aston Villa on Saturday.

After spending last season on loan at Saints, the move became a $26 million permanent transfer from Liverpool in the summer and Ings was finally injury free and had a full preseason.

Speaking after the win at Villa to BBC Sport, Ings’ manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is delighted.

“Danny is fantastic at the moment, he’s absolutely outrageous at the moment and I’m very happy for him,” Hasenhuttl said.

As for the man of the moment, he praised the work the team is putting in as they’ve now won three of their last five games to bounce back after a tough start to the season.

“It is very, very important for us as a team, the fans and everyone at the club,” Ings told BBC Solent. “We didn’t start the season too strong but to come here and win the way we did today, that shows real promise for us as a team that we are working hard to turn all our mistakes from previous games into positives. Today we showed a proper professional performance.”

Ings’ comeback has been so impressive and he looks like he’s going to score every time he steps on the pitch right now. He was denied by the post and crossbar last week against West Ham, while he also scored a screamer which was ruled out due to a foul in the build-up, and he scored in his five games before he fired a blank against the Hammers.

Simply put, Ings is on fire. If he stayed fit, this was always likely to happen.

He is just the third player in Southampton’s history to hit double figures in a season before Christmas Day and he says it is all down to an intense offseason.

“It is great, it really is great, I worked extremely hard in the offseason,” Ings said. “Last year I couldn’t give as much as I wanted to due to fitness and things like that but this year I’ve worked really hard to get into the shape I’m in and every day, coming into training, for games, I am having fun. I am enjoying my football again. When I’m enjoying my football it brings out the best in me and I know there is still more to come and I’m going to work extremely hard to make sure I fulfil my potential here.”

Right now he looks certain to get a call-up for the England national team in March and although Gareth Southgate isn’t short of options in attack, Ings’ pace and ability to be in the right place at the right time is Jamie Vardy-esque. Vardy probably isn’t going to come out of retirement for EURO 2020, so Ings would be a great option for England.

Saints hope he will 1) stay fit and 2) keep scoring as they are now out of the relegation zone and three points clear of trouble ahead of a tough festive period with Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Liverpool up next.