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Ralph Hasenhuttl Explains His Late January Transfer Decisions
Friday, 5th Feb 2021 10:32

There was some criticism for the manager from sections of the Saints support for the decision to let three squad players move on loan in the final days, leaving the squad threadbare for the trip to Manchester United, but Ralph has explained the reasoning behind it.

On the face of it, with an injury list as long as his arm, it seemed strange that Ralph Hasenhuttl should let Yan Valery, Jake Vokins and Shane Long move out on loan, all had seen action in the previous week and the injury list had just got worse after the Villa game.

But Ralph Hasenhuttl had a couple of issues to wrestle with before making his decision, the first football wise and the second financial.

The Shane Long departure was perhaps the easiest to make and a no brainer, the Irish striker was playing a part in the season and if he went needed replacing, the decision to let him go relied on a replacement coming in, Bournemouth were keen on Long and the striker was keen to go, he wanted to play football not just take a wage.

"He wants to play, it’s the same with Yan Valery," explained Hasenhuttl when asked about Shane Long, "Some players, they didn’t play enough. That’s the reason why they tried to find another opportunity.

“I know that I’m not full of players and it seems stupid that you let them go but I think Long deserved to get this chance because he did so much for this club."

Ralph Hasenhuttl is right Shane Long did deserve the chance to be treated with respect by Southampton Football Club and he deserves to be treated with respect by Saints supporters.

Most do recognise the contribution that Long made to the club especially in his first three seasons when he was a key part of the team that has three straight top 8 finishes, two European campaigns and got to the League Cup Final.

But some only saw goals scored and not what he did off the ball and some of the comments I see about Long from a minority on social media show no appreciation for his service in 7 seasons at the club,

Initially it looked like Josh King might arrive in a type of swap deal for Long, but Ralph was not keen on the player, but he was more enamoured of Minamino from Liverpool, although the financial workings of this move have not been revealed, the money that Saints get from Bournemouth will not cover the entire cost of the payment to Liverpool.

This deal was a progressive one both financially and in terms of getting in a younger player who is highly rated by Liverpool who although happy to loan him would not insert a permanent transfer clause as they see this move as merely getting him Premier league experience and a key part of their squad next season.

But the departure of Yan Valery & Jake Vokins was a little more controversial and Ralph took a more long term view of those deals.

Yes he needed them for the trip to Manchester United, perhaps even the next game against Newcastle, but after that with players coming back from injury he had to look at whether he would use them after that.

Vokins had played just once in the Premier League and he had been substituted after 66 minutes and Valery had played one game plus his 2 late sub appearances.

Neither had had the chance to contribute much during the first 20 games of the season and with injuries coming back, they would probably not get much opportunity in the second half of the season.

The manager knew they needed game time if they were to force their way into the reckoning going forward and being full backs, a specialist position they would not get it at St Mary's.

Hasenhuttl doesn't feel that Saints have a problem at full-back - even without their newly-departed youngsters.

"We are not so bad in that position as we have Will Ferry as an alternative on the bench if we need to,"

“It looks like Jannik [Vestergaard] and [Mohammed] Salisu are coming back as soon as one week or two weeks. This is important as we will then have more options in the back four and Kyle-Walker Peters' is not a big injury. "

In truth if the transfer window was due to end a week later, there would not have been a problem, he would have used Valery at Old Trafford, Vokins would have been on the bench and they would have then departed as the squad returned to somewhere approaching full strength.

But the fact that neither had played much of a part until injuries had really kicked in was telling the manager something, and that for varying reasons, he did not feel confident in using either unless it was an emergency.

Jake Vokins name has been embroiled in the righteous indignation that some supporters have used when venting their spleen on social media, but truth is he would not have started at Old Trafford.

Yan Valery would have, so there was a dilemma there, the manager had to take a long term view and that was if Valery is to get his confidence back he needed to go on loan as did Vokins, there was no point in keeping them for one game and then letting them drop to the fringes again.

The right decision was to loan them out, it was only the timing that was flawed, but this was a one game thing, they both needed to play the last 20 games of the season somewhere and that was not going to be Saints just on the pecking order at the club.

So from footballing terms it was right to let them go and also from a financial perspective, those with the loudest voices about a lack of ambition from Saints are also the ones that seem oblivious to the financial crisis that football clubs including Saints are in.

Saints are losing money at a rate of £3 million a month and they are perhaps one of the lowest losses in the Premier League.

A look at the transfer listings of Premier League clubs in January saw only 21 incoming signings, mostly loan deals, West Brom were responsible for 5 of the signings, almost a quarter of the total.

On the other hand 100 players departed from Premier League squads, again mostly fringe players off to lower league clubs.

But the message was clear, all clubs were trying to slash overheads from a Saints perspective and discounting the Long departure and those out on loan in the first half of the season, Saints saw 4 players leave, 3 on loan and one permanently, Vokins having signed a four year deal at the start of the season would have been the highest earner.

I would hazard a guess that those four players earn around £50,000 a week between them, assuming that we have loaned them out purely for their wages to be paid and no loan fee involved, we have shaved £200k off the £3 million a month we are currently losing.

It doesn't sound much but it reduces the losses and every other club is in the same boat, it is not a lack of ambition, a year ago football was assuming that by the start of this season things would be back to normal, fans would be back in the grounds in numbers and financially it would be back to approaching the normal level.

This is not the case and all clubs have a void they need to fill, even Liverpool and Manchester United had to trim their rosters to save money.

Many like to blame our owner Jisheng Gao, but as I said this is a football thing, hence Tottenham Hotspur have borrowed heavily in the summer, their billionaire owner is not using his own funds to plug the gap and that is the situation at all clubs.

So this is the reasoning behind Jake Vokins and Yan Valery leaving, sometimes you have to take a long term approach and this was one of those times, as with all football transfer decisions only time will give us the answer whether this was the right thing to do or not, but what we should know is that Ralph Hasenhuttl weighed up all the pros and cons and has then taken what he sees as the best strategy for the club as a whole.

Photo: Action Images



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DorsetIan added 11:10 - Feb 5
Seems Jisheng Gao is never responsible for anything.

And when you factor in the 6% per month we've managed to shave off the monthly losses, it really puts the 9-0 defeat into a proper perspective.
-3

Sadoldgit added 11:37 - Feb 5
A very balanced article. Us fans are quick to seek to blame someone when things aren’t going to so well and rarely stop to think before they vent. Gao was going to asset strip wasn’t he? Well that didn’t happen. To be fair to the bloke, he is trying to find a buyer. Let’s hope he finds one that has been as good to us as Marcus and Kat. The club have never been swimming in cash and the board and the manager need to find short term and long term solutions to our many issues. The United situation was a perfect storm that no one could have foreseen. I think we had all written it off as a free hit but no one could have imagined what a sh it storm it turned out to be. Ralph and the club have acted with class and good grace. We as supporters need to do the same.
4

highfield49 added 11:57 - Feb 5
Let's face it, we all need to vent our frustrations somewhere unless we have the ability to maintain total mental tranquillity. Referees, underperforming players and naff managers often take the brunt of our displeasure and Club owners with sewn up pockets are fair game as well at times. Whilst I'm no fan of Gao and wonder why on earth he decided to invest in the club he did get shot of the failing recruitment guru and ice hockey coach. However, hopefully he will soon sell his share of the club to someone who will back the manager with sustainable funding for the future. Of course RH will make mistakes and plans will go to pot but let's hang in there because he can take us to greater things over the next few years.
5

SaintPaulVW added 12:47 - Feb 5
Success has many fathers but failure is always an orphan.

I think there were a lot of reasons behind the disaster on Tuesday night. Sometimes it helps to speak/post about it just to hear other people's view points and develop your own thoughts.

Ralph is a good manager so I am sure that what he can take on board from his own mistakes he will.

Water under the bridge now. Roll on Saturday.
8

DellBoyWally added 13:56 - Feb 5
Well, we could have Mourinho as manager and not have our team cross the halfway line and see non-playing players blamed for his, the manager's, abysmal tactics!
So Tuesday's loss was down to Shane Long bolting his crumble and bolting of to Bournemouth. Joking Longy!!
Oh, just an aside: this last week we got exactly the same number of points as Spuds and Lillypool! And we was wobbed. Well, in one game. We were always gonna struggle in Salford. Mike Dean just hustled it along
2

underweststand added 14:07 - Feb 5
the Man U. defeat was a combination of factors. Primarily - 8 players who would have been available had injuries - or why else did we have to play Jankewicz, Ramsey and Tchaptchet in the first place. Too much already written about the 2 minute red card, and hopefully everyone will learned from it. The most contentious issue being Bednarek's sending off - a decision that every media critic - and the appeals committee had agreed was unnecessary, and eventually made the final score even worse that it was.
On another day, Bednarek might have been blameless and Martial had booked for diving.

The immense amount already posted about referee Dean is best left on the other thread.

Both Valery and Vokins need to prove themselves if Ralph is going to trust them to become squad regulars, and a short burst of " men's football " will toughen them up and see if they are good enough for a longer-term Prem. career. It should be noted that for every lad who goes through the age-groups and makes it to the Prem. level, there are a dozen others who never make it; through Injury, insufficient talent or being unfortunate enough to understudy to a regular team player.

Shane Long has done all he can to help Saints, and at 33 he deserves the chance finish his career with dignity, and some regular game time, instead of the occasional 10 minute sub.app. It's hard enough for the younger lads to get on the pitch, and the likes of N'Lundulu need those precious minutes if they are to prove themselves .

"the Owners" stance of funding , and the colossal errors in the transfer market by the previous administration mean that (sadly) we may yet again have to return to the policy of selling our "Crown Jewels " - albeit at cut-rate prices as Covid has decimated the market for most clubs - except those who have owners with money to burn.

I have the impression that Saints' recently declared loss (£76 million) may pale into insignificance when some of the other Prem. clubs publish their latest figures, but it is a financial situation we will have to learn to live with for a while longer.
6

SanMarco added 14:42 - Feb 5
I agree on Long. He had a good couple of years with us and rather a long tail where he wasn't getting a game or playing well when he did get one. Good luck to him.

The Vokins and Valerie decisions would have been forgotten quickly if we'd lost 2 or 3 nil on Tuesday. As long as we don't plunge into the fringes of the relegation battle we will all recover our poise. It is only really Valerie who is an issue and to be brutally honest would he have done any better than Ramsay? It sounds like KWP is back soon and if we do have cover for the full-backs as good as the 2 Vs then what the heck.
3

Manooman added 18:41 - Feb 5
I'm fully behind RH decisions on transfers, we don't know what pressures are being out on him behind the scenes. If a 9-0 result every season is enough to keep the 'bigger clubs' away I'll take it.
3

underweststand added 11:29 - Feb 6
Good point well made ..Manooman.
If the 0-9 had been part of a longer run of bad defeats, we might worry more but Ralph has shown that he can produce a team that gets results. Of course the financial issue has to be considered with; no fans allowed in, or products sold in volume, less TV money on the horizon, and the burden of "the others", who are getting part-subsidized salaries whilst out on loan playing for other clubs. (Sensible Housekeeping).
Those younger players who have recently gone out on loan had little or no chance of regular selection and it's an opportunity for them and other young players to "show up and be seen ", and we can judge if they are worth a longer-term career at this level.

After getting a point at The Emirates in December, we deserved another v. Man City at SMS (even allowing for Sterling's "accidental " handball in his own area), and with City desperately playing for time in the last 10 minutes.
Then began the injury spiral with; Redmond, Vestergaard, Ings, Djenepo, Tella, Romeo, Diallo, Smallbone, Walcott, and then Walker-Peters all dropping out in successive games.

We then managed a 1-0 win v. Liverpool and FA Cup win over Arsenal, but by now were using players who wouldn't normally have made the bench, let alone played 90 minutes.
Now it is time to reconstruct the side ASAP and although a top 5 place may be a very big challenge by now, we still have a foot in the FA Cup, and the hope that we might once again get a chance to go to Wembley, and get some Euro. football that way.
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