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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