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James Ward Prowse Hails Hasenhuttl For Saving His Career
Sunday, 3rd Jan 2021 10:01

A little over two years ago James Ward Prowse was at a crossroads in his career, at 24 he had been a first team regular for 6 years, but he had lost his way and was struggling to even get game time off the bench, then came the arrival of Ralph Hasenhuttl.

In the first half of 2018/19 season James Ward Prowse had become a squad player rather than a regular starter under Mark Hughes.

In the 14 games that Hughes was manager before his sacking in December 2018, Ward Prowse had been an unused sub in 7 of those games, had started just 2 games and had come on as a sub just 3 times, on two occasions be had not even been named in the squad.

His career looked to be heading downhill, he had failed to make the jump from promising youngster to established first team regular.

When Hughes was sacked there was a ray of hope, but initially to Saints fans it didn't look like a lot had changed, he had a 10 minute cameo for Ralph Hasenhuttl's debut as Saints boss at Cardiff, but in the next 3 games he had no game time at all, being on the bench as an unused sub twice and out of the squad altogether for the win at Huddersfield.

But then something changed he started against Manchester City for the final game of the calendar year and from then on, aside from having to come off injured at West Ham, he played every minute of the rest of the season.

He started scoring goals and his prowess as a free kick taker suddenly came to the score and he ended the season having scored 7 goals.

Something changed during that first month under Hasenhuttl, when Saints played Crystal Palace, Ward Prowse suddenly had a swagger that he had never had in the previous six years, he looked like he believed that he deserved to be on that pitch, that he was an equal of any player on it and his tussle with Wilfrid Zaha showed he had hardened up.

The Austrian seemed to have instilled self belief in the player and found that nasty streak needed in the Premier League.

When he arrived Hasenhuttl had clearly done his homework and he knew of the talents of Ward Prowse and soon after he arrived he scheduled a meeting with the player.

"He saved my Southampton career, really," the playmaker admitted as he spoke to BBC Sport.

"Before he came in, I was in a difficult position and I didn't know where I stood in terms of playing for the team.

"He came in and had a brutal conversation with me about his demands and what he needed from me if I am to play in his team"

"That helped me a lot, it was really clear what he wanted and wanted me to go out and show it."

Ward Prowse was the first beneficiary of Ralph's man management and getting the best out individual players but he would not be the last, since then the likes of Oriol Romeu, Jannik Vestergaard even Stuart Armstrong have all benefitted from the Hasenhuttl touch, all three did not look like they had long term futures at the club over the past year or so, but now all three are seen as key members of the squad.

Ward Prowse himself is in no doubt of the impact that Ralph Hasenhuttl has had not just on his own career, but for others and also the bigger picture.

His verdict on his manager after two years in charge is simple, to the point and accurate:

"Since he came, he's regained the identity of the club,"

Photo: Action Images



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WestSussexSaint added 10:10 - Jan 3
He is certainly much more than just a expert dead ball player now. His work rate in the midfield is immense and he plus Romeu are a key reason why there is less pressure on our defence recently.

To reach the next level, if that is possible, I would still like to see more creativity from him in the attacking third with a moving ball. That said the current tactics don’t require that of him and if he were to develop along these lines I suspect the big 6 clubs would be sniffing a bit harder than they are now.

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underweststand added 12:13 - Jan 3
It's been a long road for James who has been with Saints for around 12 years (?) and was already making headlines before he was old enough to come into the Academy.
Captaining U18 and U23 's and getting call ups for young England squads and ending up as Gareth Southgate's U23 captain, but his Saints career has been a lot of start /stops .
After debuting in Prem. 2012 aged 17, he was the victim of managerial changes and getting differing roles whenever he was picked and the ongoing the form of Steven Davis, and (I suspect ) because some still saw him as an overgrown teenager.

His promotion to captain's role was delayed by the presence of Hojbjerg, but now he developed out of sight and getting acclaim from all directions, (and sadly also from the likes of Glenn Hoddle who has no right to say anything about Saints after his betrayal).

The one thing that James still deserves is a regular start place in the England squad, but whilst the fate of England managers is dependent on selection of at least half a dozen players from London clubs and must get the approval of the media pundits, that is one honour that may prove to be elusive - at least for a while longer.
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perazi added 21:50 - Jan 3
Agree with WestSussexSaint, the big improvement in his game has been using his work rate more constructively with effective pressing, tackling and harassing. His dead ball skill has never been in doubt, but now these other traits have rounded his game out. I also agree that to take his game to a higher level, more creativity in attacking areas is needed. At he moment Romeu seems to be fulfilling more of the box-to-box role. As the article implies, Ralph deserves much praise for the faith and polish he's invested into players like JWP.
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