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In Ralph We Trust !
Thursday, 25th Feb 2021 09:31

The defeat at Leeds United wasn't great to watch in the end, but if Saints are to pull out of this rut, then Ralph Hasenhuttl is the man to do this. In times of crisis a football club's supporters have to pull together and now is the time for Saints fans to do that.

Seven weeks ago Saints supporters were pretty happy with their lot, we were handily placed in the top 6 after beating LIverpool and looking forward to a good cup run, but the writing was already on the wall we were picking up injuries at an alarming rate and although we had just about coped in December with key players out, things were now getting a lot tougher.

No one back then was foreseeing what would happen in the next 8 Premier League games !

But although we are in our worst run ever, this season is not a normal one and there are mitigating circumstances, we are not alone in having boom or bust periods, David Moyes at West Ham was under fire at the start of the season until the Hammers went on a good run bac in November, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer at Manchester United likewise at the start of the season.

Liverpool are like us in the middle of their worst run in living memory and from the viewpoint of the resources they have, for them it is more worrying than Saints.

The problem with modern football is that it is now all about instant success with little room for bad periods, the moment a club hits a poor run of form the knives are out on social media and the easy targets are the manager and the owner with changes demanded.

But do we want to jump on this bandwagon, yes the current run of form is disappointing, but truth is we don't want to go back to the way we have been over the last 30 years where managers have come and gone at an alarming rate, since Ian Branfoot was appointed in the summer of 1991, we have had a grand total of 23 permanent managers of Southampton Football Club and if he does see out the season Ralph Hasenhuttl will become the longest serving one of the lot.

We need to look now at the longer project, our last 30 years have been poor because we lacked continuity, occasionally when it looked like we might find a manager who could take us forward they were soon poached and had gone.

Indeed going back almost 50 years when Lawrie McMenemy was appointed it would have been easy to have sacked him in his first two seasons, relegation followed by mid table in Division Two saw supporters calling for his head, the walk from the tunnel to the trainers bench was not a pleasant one during his second season.

He started his third season on borrowed time, luckily he got off to a good start and he had rebuilt the team and by the end of it we were FA Cup winners, it could have been a very different future if the Saints board had taken the advice of the majority of the supporters and sacked him in the summer of 1975.

Likewise at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp was brought in to end their wait for a Premier League title, it took him 4 years to win a trophy, it took him 5 years to bring the League title back to Anfield.

But what the Liverpool owners had seen was that for Klopp it was a long term project and that success is built on solid foundations and not by changing at every setback.

In Ralph Hasenhuttl we have a man like Klopp who believes in the club he is at, he is planning not just for now, but also the future, given time he can build those solid foundations and take us forward.

Some Saints supporters have lost track of what success is to Southampton FC, it is not winning the Premier League, it is challenging for the top 10 perhaps a little higher and also trying to win one of the domestic cups.

There will be some who have bought into the reach for the sky and get the stars philosophy, but is that really achievable ? Target of success have to be realistic, achievable, stretching and moveable.

That means going for smaller targets first and when they have been achieved moving forward to the next one, you have to build the foundations and when you have done at each level you can then move forward.

To be blunt the Premier League is fast becoming a closed shop at the top, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United have far more financial resources and are being chased by the likes of Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal who have won the odd cup but little else over the, Leicester have built foundations on what was a freak title win, but even they are just scratching for crumbs as the latter three clubs muck it all up with a new manager season after season.

Money is not the key to success anymore, you cannot buy your way into the top six, several clubs have tried to, the latest being Everton, but truth is they have spent £500 million over the past five years, changed managers regularly and not managed above 7th.

So for me there is nothing to be achieved by changing managers now, who would we get who is a better fit than Ralph ?

Certainly not the ones that have been mentioned by some like Frank Lampard, why would we want a manager who has had only two jobs and only has 2 1/2 years experience, yes he is a big name and a great player, but the great players don't often make great managers, Frank Lampard might persuade a decent signing or two from his contacts, but would he truly be committed, like Glenn Hoddle he would see us as merely somewhere to work whist he waited for another big job to become available.

So I say In Ralph We Trust, here is a decent man who has the potential to become our best manager since Lawrie McMenemy, yes this season has imploded but there are reasons for that beyond his control, we can win a game or two and pull away from any worry of relegation and we might just spring a surprise in the FA Cup.

This season is still only 5 wins away from being our greatest ever season, if we win two more league games then relegation isn't an issue and if we win 3 games in the FA Cup then this suddenly becomes a historic season and Ralph Hasenhuttl becomes a legend up there with Ted Bates and Lawrie McMenemy.

If 8 games is all it takes to turn some of our supporters against Ralph then that is a very sad state of affairs, but we are not alone amongst football clubs to have a proportion of supporters who are fickle.

But it is now what happens in the next 8 games that count not the last 8 and indeed all that counts, Ralph has proved in the past that he can can recover from adverse moments and come back stronger, he can do it again.

But he is only human, he needs to see that the supporters are behind him, that they have the same vision that he does for the club, as i say I cannot see a better man for the job than Ralph Hasenhuttl, we need to stick behind him and stand up and let him know that.

Truth is that in any time of adversity it is the minority who shout the loudest and social media has helped that, but now the majority need to rise, be proud of their football club and give something back to a manager who has gone a long way to helping us recover from that dreadful time under Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes.

It was only three years ago that we would have been delighted to have been 8 points clear of relegation and 14th in the League, now we see it as a time of crisis.

I am not saying that the last two months have not been acceptable, I am just saying they have happened, we can't change them, put them behind us and back Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Photo: Action Images



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perazi added 09:54 - Feb 25
I often find the writer's articles a mixture of blather and blind opinion presented as "truths"; but he is right to say that Ralph deserves to be given support by the board and fans alike. Ralph once said he only needed a small squad - and on that count he was wrong. He also has shown at times a belligerence with team formation, selections and style of play. His use of players off the bench have sometimes been puzzling. Two 9-0 defeats and a recent record of 1 point from a possible 24 are sobering statistics.
The mediating factors are plenty - injuries, VAR/Referee clangers, lack of investment and to be frank a squad lacking in much class and creativity. Then there's the issue of Ralph's coaching staff. Can we really believe that Ralph is happy to have long standing "civil servants" like Kelvin and Dave Watson?
We should hope that the Club keeps the faith in Ralph and Ralph retains his appetite for the job until there's a change of ownership because despite what is often written on this site, Gao is strangling Saints into oblivion and there is a desperate need for the renewal of a new owner to give Ralph the chance to achieve something better at this grand old Club.
17

halftimeorange added 10:05 - Feb 25
We need to draw a line under what has gone before this season. Only one thing counts and that is staying in the EPL. A cup run is now a side issue. Will we avoid relegation? If we do it will be as much to do with Fulham's and Newcastle's results as our own. If we do contrive to be relegated the blame should be equally apportioned between the board's failure to support Ralph in the recent transfer windows, Ralph's dubious selections and tactics and the players themselves, some of whom have not been as professional as they should have been and haven't played as a team. To us supporters relegation is unthinkable. I wonder if the club hierarchy feel the same.
1

underweststand added 10:07 - Feb 25
.so that's the answer then.
As long as we win the FA Cup this season, then Ralph has a job for life regardless of which league we play in.
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froggysaint added 10:19 - Feb 25
I agree with much of what you say; I like Ralph as a manager. I enjoy his philosophy of attacking football, and I think he has done enough to deserve our support through this difficult period. Maybe Perazi is right, and there should be a shake-up of his coaching staff.

Our club is such a curate's egg. It's great in part, we have a number of wonderful players, and when the team plays well, it is a delight to watch. We do, however, seem to suffer from a massive sports psychology problem; whenever a game starts to turn against us, the players heads seem to go down, and it all goes to pieces. Against Leeds was a case in point; in the second half, we just seemed to give up.

COYS !
8

wessexman added 10:24 - Feb 25
It is utterly bizarre we are backing a manager who has presided over several unwanted records. But, can we honestly say we have progressed? Here we are in the crazy situation of talking about needing 6 or 8 points to avoid relegation after hovering round the top 6 only 2 months ago. A stern word of warning....Bournemouth knew they would be in trouble once they stopped scoring... In the end they walking into relegation almost willingly. Our main striker is now goal shy and our defence has reverted to type. The alarm bells were ringing for me once Newcastle went down to 9 men. There was no urgency no belief and no idea. Yes, we may well have 13 games left but, even though we have a grim injury list, we have thrown away so many points it is a joke. Surely, we are not sleep walking into disaster?
1

teamster1 added 10:34 - Feb 25
I believe we should back the manager and injuries have played a part. But it is when I see players who have not improved since we brought them to the club that frustrates me. Redmond and Adams being at the forefront of that. I believe Redmond actually believes he is better than he thinks and channels his energy in the wrong way. He has pace so use it take people on run at people but no he spends most of his time moaning and gobbling off to all and sundry. Adams has to work on his touch and hold up play it is Abysmal. I would get Rickie Lambert in to do 1 on 1 with him to help him. At the top level and with his physical attributes he has to do better.
10

SaintPaulVW added 10:37 - Feb 25
Ralph always comes across as intelligent and willing to learn. If so he will be trying to find a way out of this. I agree that a short term answer may be better assistants or better choices from the advice they are giving.

The great start to the season may have given us too much hope. However it was always built on dodgy foundations. It was always going to go adrift when the inevitable injuries started mounting up. There was very little experienced back up due to poor recruitment creating gaps that cannot be filled quickly without further large scale investment. In a global pandemic with a remote owner this wasn't going to happen.

We further weakened ourselves with the gamble in sending the only slightly experienced back ups at full back out on loan. Again there may be good reasons for these moves but again it reduced the choices available to Ralph.

Ralph has shown he can produce a successful team with the right players. He should be given more time to try to get a squad fit for purpose. Due to constraints this will only happen slowly.

Social media is all about the instant reaction. The more extreme the more attention it gets. Not too sure how that really fits in with squad building over a longer period.

COYR
4

HythePeer added 10:59 - Feb 25
Perhaps Nick would like to give us an indication of what position Saints need to be in before he would take action.
-7

PaleRider added 11:01 - Feb 25
Nick, I agree that we should stick with Ralph - mainly because I don't know who we would replace him with and I like his attacking philosophy.

However:

1) I'm not sure he learns quickly enough. He does have a stubborn streak and is sometimes still too slow to make substitutions and change the game plan;
2) The small squad approach may have worked in the Bundesliga - but that is a less demanding league. You need a lot of luck to make it work in the Premier League; and
3) Building on point 2, he does need to be supported in the transfer market. I'm afraid that whilst Gao may not be a bad owner, he is not a good owner. I have asked a question many times - how much has he put into Saints? I believe that the answer is zero - even before the current issues with China.

Still the roller coaster is part and parcel of supporting Saints. COYS.
4

saintmark1976 added 11:11 - Feb 25
You can continue to buy into the Cult of Saint Ralph if you wish to Nick. I don’t.

Why? Because the evidence points in the opposite direction.

1. 9-0 top flight defeats home and away in a period of fifteen months.
2. The longest run of consecutive defeats in the Club’s history.
3. A complete inability to adapt the team’s tactics both before and during matches.
4. No constructive use of how and when to use substitutions.
5. A constant desire to chose certain players irrespective of their current form.
6. Playing team members out of position.
7. Telling the media that the club’s players simply “gave up”.

Having said the above I think the question of wether he stays or goes is academic.Given that when the club can’t afford to keep young full backs on the books to cover gaps in the squad, they most certainly won’t be able to pay off the manager’s allegedly £6 million a year contract.
-2

stmichael added 11:44 - Feb 25
It's a very strange situation..
I don't want rid of him and even relegation probably would not change my view..
Basically I am sick of changing managers and I have seen enough of RH to look at this more long term as Nick suggested..
Problem is if we lose at Everton which is likely we are then faced with bottom club Sheff Utd in what would surely be a critical game.
9 defeats out of 10 , 1 point out of 30 , spiralling down the table , chuck in a couple of 9-0s including a loss at bottom of the league...
I don't think anyone could complain if he doesn't survive that..
7

TimSaint added 12:00 - Feb 25
Why look at the last 8 games ? If you look at the last 13 league games - a third of the season - we have alarmingly amassed just 7 points.

Ralph needs to forget about using the footballing gods being against us at the moment, as an excuse for poor results and really start motivating his team. This is also down to the Captain and the players themselves.

Early season performances and indeed the Liverpool game, have shown us what we are capable of, so it is now up to the manager and his playing staff to rediscover that form.

.....surely even we can manage 3 or 4 wins from our remaining 13 games and then we can focus on the FA Cup - provided we are still in it !! :-)
7

pwithers123 added 12:33 - Feb 25
Good article - Right approach
1

GeordieSaint added 12:41 - Feb 25
Well I for one love the bloke. The football is great to watch when it is going well and his passion and personality shine through. Two more wins and a couple of draws will see us safe but even if we got relegated I would not want him gone.

When Romeu had to come off the other day there was no one on the bench to replace him and that was already with the balance of the team being completely off by having no right back. With anyone else I believe we would have a lot fewer points than we do now.

Saints have also been totally killed by VAR and refereeing decisions during that period.
8

SaintNick added 12:53 - Feb 25
Plenty of comments here against Ralph, I see plenty of criticisms but I dont see many solutions.

Gao is a simple target, Perazi says he is strangling the club into oblivion, but doesn't explain how he is doing that, he presents this as a truth in much the same way he accuses me of doing the same, if Gao was taking multi millions out of the club, then yes I would agree with him, but he isnt, he is merely running it as a business, the same as most clubs have to aside from the priveledged few.

I dont think anyone has suggested an alternative, so just who would we get to replace and why would he be better.

SaintMark, gives me a list of several points as to why he doesn't worship at the cult of Ralph, he lists two 9-0 defeats, they are not good on the record books but ultimately aside from the goal difference a defeat is a defeat and he gives no leeway for the issues which affected that defeat, likewise his point 3 about an ability to adapt during a match, again gives no leeway for the fact that we have had at least six experienced professionals out for the best part of the last two months, so that limits his ability to have a plan B , it is why we run out of legs at the end of games,

The same with substitutions, unless he wants to use untried teenagers he has to basically stick to a game plan of trying to get into the last 20 minutes and then use the 2 or 3 experienced players he has for fresh legs,

A constant desire to play players irrespective of current form ! I.m a little confused at this, he has switched just about the only options he has around in the last few games, as in playing Redmond up front or using Djenepo, at the moment with the injuries he only has two options to change and that is attackers or wingers in simple terms, likewise playing players out of position, again who else could he have played on Tuesday we had no choice who to play at right back, the first choice was injured, even the back up in Valery had barely played in the last 18 months and when he had bore the brunt of the fans having become the latest whipping boy.

Im sorry Saintark, plenty of moaning. but nothing really to tell us why we should drop a manager who has had a bad run the sack after taking us from a team that were 3rd from bottom with 9 points from 15 games when he took over to a team that have topped the league this season and only need perhaps 8 more points to secure safety this season and are in with a shout of an FA Cup final.

Winning the FA Cup is not the be all and end all of things but I would take 16th and win the cup above 8th and not win it.

Gao is strangling the club is the view of some, but he may not have been able to put money in but he has kept it on s stable a footing as it can be on given that it has virtually no income other than Premier League and TV money and unlike some on this thread he hasn't thrown his toys out of the pram and panicked at the first sign of trouble either this year or last.

If someone can tell me a good and obtainable alternative than Ralph then I will listen and perhaps agree, but at the moment I can't name one and neither can most other people so far aside from rich arabs as owners and then a name manager who will come for the money

6

Boris1977 added 12:54 - Feb 25
Most football fans are glass half full types and as saints fans we know we need to make the most of small victories e.g. beating liverpool.

My expectations are low but the past few months have been full of disappointment, frustration and embarrassment.

We've not had the rub of the green but when we do get it e.g. against Newcastle we didn't capitalise.

I expect that Ralph will stay in the job based on the highlights he's provided since he arrived and due to the suspected lack of funds available to pay him off as evidenced by the 3 out 1 in activity in January.

One of the biggest changes in the game in the last 20 years is the increase in player power and the additional skills managers need in managing their egos more than their football education. If the players lose faith in a manager nowadays their days are numbered. If Ralph has lost this he'll struggle to get it back.

I personally would love him to succeed at the club and achieve things with us but he needs to learn to adapt tactics and personnel when necessary and saints needs an owner who will invest.
3

HythePeer added 13:10 - Feb 25
Laurent Blanc
-4

Farlow added 13:16 - Feb 25
The obvious replacement for Romeu is Calum Slattery.Guess what hes out on loan.
2

perazi added 13:40 - Feb 25
A response to St Nick's questioning of my claim that Gao is paralysing the immediate future of SFC. Gao is an absent owner who has been keen to sell for for nearly a year. He had the opportunity to sell at a certain price point, but chose to inflate the asking price when the Club briefly sat at the top of the table. Gao has failed to invest even meagre resources to bolster a small, undermanned squad, resulting in glaring weaknesses in depth ie only two Prem quality FBs; three Prem quality central midfielders. Other Clubs in similar financial positions have supported their Managers - Fulham, Brighton, Palace, Leeds. A Club up for sale for an extended period is a Club deprived of renewal. The drawn out sale of the Club hangs over everything - the Club must provide the resources to keep Ralph until a new owner arrives - Gao stands in the way of that.
A couple of questions for St Nick. How do you know that the owner hasn't panicked "at the first sign of trouble" - how would anyone know? He's an absent owner who put the Club up for sale some time ago. How can you claim the owner has "kept the Club on a stable footing"? His absent ownership and failure to invest anything have left the Club teetering with one point from a possible 24 and trying to flop over the line to safety. Even if we do, a continuation of his ownership will likely see the Club relegated in 21/22 if renewal doesn't happen.
4

sandywelsh added 13:53 - Feb 25
Just a point about our lack of goals.
Shane Long has scored 2 for Bournemouth in a week.
0

SanMarco added 14:55 - Feb 25
These are indeed strange times. I am not going to move into the "Ralph Out" camp and certainly not into a 'Cult of Saint Ralph' either! He has made mistakes and has had quite a bit of bad luck. I get the point that if we lose the next two he will have gone beyond all previous club tolerance (at any club, not just Saints) but I would argue that there is still no point in a change before the summer. We will still probably stay up and with no backing from the owners any new manager will do well to improve things. Indeed next season is likely to be difficult whoever is in charge.

One final point: I get why Nick writes articles like this and I agree with the general thrust of this one but I do see why such an article annoys some. Is it really "fickle" to express doubts about a manager who has presided over a record ever home defeat, record ever away defeat and record ever losing run? I back Ralph but with ever increasing reservations. I want him to stay but this aint working with such a thin squad. Football usually lasts 95ish minutes, not 30 and if you have a thin squad you surely play accordingly, certainly once the injuries start.
7

highfield49 added 16:05 - Feb 25
I'm in the "stick with Ralph" camp, despite recent results and dubious decision making. But, as the question arose, who would I replace him with? My choice would be Rafa Benitez, who is still out of a job after leaving China. His style of play isn't very imaginative and favours a 4321 formation with zone defence but he does seem to get players organised and motivated. The bonus of course being that supporters would be screaming for Ralph to return because we'd be falling asleep whilst his team was grinding out results.
0

saintmark1976 added 16:12 - Feb 25
Interesting if not wholly unexpected reply Nick.

Strange isn’t it that when I post a view contrary to your own giving details of my opinion as to Ralph’s failings you immediately accuse me of “moaning”? I prefer to be more charitable toward you. I respectfully suggest that you are simply misguided in your desire to wish to retain his services when viewed against the seven reasons I previously stated.
1

Foreverred added 20:06 - Feb 25
The way I see things that being a saints fan is being a realist, the way the club is structured we are never going to be a top five club, to be that we need a large investment from our owners, and that not going to happen .kat and GAO have made it clear this club need to be self financing , in order to buy we need to sell as with the van dyke money which finance the ings deal. Also Matt target
Sell financed the djenepo deal. Other adjustments with loaning out players and the the selling
Of holberg and Harrison Reid have loosen the purse strings allowing us to purchase diallo and salisu
So that my take on the situation, you have to speculate to accumulate, we have had managers who wanted to take us to another level in poch, and koeman but that ambition was not shared. So I believe we should stick with Ralph because no one could do a better job with the restraints he has to work under. I also believe there is at least three wins in this team to get us to safety, with a couple of draws along the way, and maybe as fans our ambitions will never be that of the club, so a top ten finish should be regarded as a successful season, with hopefully a FA cup final appearance.
2

deanosfc8 added 08:17 - Feb 26
Where were the Ralph out vultures when we were topping the league? Here we are blessed with a manager that does really care and embrace this football club and us so called supporters. All I say is to you muppets that want Ralph out is be careful what you wish for!
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