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In Ralph We Should Trust
Wednesday, 14th Apr 2021 09:51

The defeat at West Bromwich Albion was not good to watch, no one is claiming otherwise it was atrocious, but some of the vicious attacks towards Ralph Hasenhuttl that have appeared on social media have been knee jerk and disgraceful and have taken no account of the bigger picture.

Saints fans were understandably upset in the manner in which Saints capitulated against West Bromwich Albion on Monday night and there are some points that I agree with and Ralph Hasenhuttl has to take some of the blame for the defeat, but not all of it, should we get rid of Danny Ings for his dreadful back pass that lead to the second goal ? should we get rid of James Ward Prowse for missing a penalty ? I thin we all know the answer there.

What that goes to show is that sometimes a manager get things wrong, his best players let him down and to be blunt before the game no one argued about the starting line up, most agreed that it was the strongest that the manager could put out.

Some Saints supporters need to get a perspective of what Ralph Hasenhuttl has done for Southampton Football Club over the last 2 years and 4 months, in that time he has taken us from a side in complete disarray in December 2018 who sat in the bottom 3 with only 9 points from 15 games, following a season where we had escaped relegation by the skin of our teeth, not because we had stormed to safety, but because Swansea City had fallen apart in the final run in.

He was not inheriting a happy squad, the club had reinvested the Virgil Van Dijk transfer money, but in the main had not done wisely, Jannik Vestergaard looked a fish out of water and Mohamed Elyounoussi was trying hard but looked out of his depth, add to that he also inherited the likes of Guido Carrillo already out on loan and Sofiane Boufal, not to mention Mario Lemina & Wesley Hoedt, both disgruntled and he did not have a lot to work with.

The fact that he got us out of the bottom three and to 16th and well safe of relegation by the end of the season was a minor miracle.

But the fact that remained was he was now manager of a club that had little money to spend due to the number of recent signings who we could not shift due to their high wages, a situation that is still ongoing although reducing each year and will not be completely finished to the summer of 2022.

Last season he took us to 11th, but those that looked at the performances could see that at times they flattered to deceive, but Hasenhuttl's hands were tied.

This season has had it's high's and lows, the lows have been largely beyond the managers control, his terrible injury list that often saw us down to just 11 fit experienced outfield player and the bench filled with academy players was not great, but there were mitigating circumstances.

But the season is a marathon not a sprint, sometimes it is not about how you get to your destination but getting there, if Ralph Hasenhuttl had got to this point by winning a few games here and there and we now sat in 14th place, 10 points above the bottom 3 and an FA Cup semi final to play, then this would have been from a completely different perspective.

On Sunday we play for a place in an FA Cup Final, a situation we have only gone into 7 times since the 1920's, that in itself is an achievement for a Saints manager, yet some can't look forward to that and enjoy the occasion, they have to demand the sacking of the manager and lets be clear here one that by this time next week could have got the club to an FA Cup Final and one that with a few wins in the final 7 games of the season could end it in 12th place.

Call me old fashioned, but in almost half a century of following this club, this is better than most seasons.

Yes perhaps we will fail against Leicester City, but at least we were in a position to compete.

History is sometimes looked back at with rose tinted specs, certainly 1976 was, we went into the semi final against Crystal Palace on the back of a 6 game run of four defeats and two draws, a run that ultimately cost us promotion and there were those that moaned back then that we were just going to get stuffed at Wembley and miss out on promotion.

Back in 1984 between the quarter final replay and the semi final we took 1 point from 3 games and look how much that cost us come the end of the season.

In more recent times Gordon Strachan's team travelled to Villa Park on the back of a 10 game run that saw just 2 wins and 10 points picked up, not much better than the 7 that Hasenhuttl has gained in the same number of games and certainly Strachan didn't have the issues we have at the moment.

Indeed many look at that season with fondness, truth is in the 16 remaining Premier League games after beating Spurs on New Years day, we won only 4 and took only 17 points, did anyone demand the sacking of Gordon Strachan ?

There are those that will say the club lacks ambition, they bandy around things on social media such as #gaoout as if that will change anything, beware of what you wish for, so far Gao has not damaged the club, he has not leveraged it as some recent purchasers of football cubs have done, he has not sidled us with debt owed to him through loans, he told us how he was going to run the club from the start, google what Gao said and then google what Markus Liebherr said when he took over Saints in 2009, tell me what the difference was.

Ralph knows the situation he has to work with, he has committed himself to Southampton Football Club in a way that no other manager has done since Chris Nicholl who was sacked 30 years ago, since then we have stumbled from manager to manager, occasionally we have found a good one, they left as soon as their stock was high enough to go to a bigger club or at least one that gave them money to spend.

In Ralph Hasenhuttl we have found a man who is looking at the bigger picture, it is a long term project for him, it is about the whole club, not just about the first team squad as it was for Strachan, Koeman & Pochettino.

Before you post Hasenhuttl must go on twitter or for that matter any social media, tell me who would we get to replace him and would they be able to do a better job ?

Would they be as committed as Ralph Hasenhuttl, or would they be like Pochettino or Koeman, just there for a year or two and then on to what they see as bigger things.

As a football club we are still in stormy waters, not just because the owner cannot put in £500 million for transfer fees, but because of the fact that we are still paying the price for poor signings over the past 4 years , add to that the current Covid 19 situation and the financial implications for all football clubs and it is a lot more stormy that some realise.

Ralph has done a good job during that time, he has steadied the ship and he can see calmer waters ahead at the end of next season, we have searched for some stability for many years, why on earth would anyone want to change the stability we have now !

This is not a total tribute to Ralph Hasenhuttl, he has done things wrong at times, he made mistakes in the West Brom game, but he has learned from those mistakes and come back stronger.

Money doesn't guarantee anything in football, it is about getting the right manager who suits the football club, back in the early 1990's Manchester United got the right man and waited the best part of 7 years for him to win them the league, Liverpool only got that when they appointed Jurgen Klopp and stuck with him as he rebuilt the side.

Everton have spent big money for the past 5 seasons , something like £500 million on transfers, yet they haven't done any better than Saints during that time.

Keep faith with Ralph, the clubs that sack managers at the first sign of trouble are the ones that keep repeating it and struggle to achieve their goals overall.

But if you still don't buy into what I am saying that is fine that is your opinion and you are entitled to it, but perhaps wise to wait until the season is over and see what has or hasn't been achieved, don't be like those who ranted on social media exactly 28 minutes into the Burnley game and who all looked foolish afterwards, keep calm and wait till the final whistle blows not just on Sunday at Wembley but the season itself.

Photo: Action Images



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highfield49 added 10:32 - Apr 14
Win or lose against Leicester what supporters won't stomach is "record defeat in Cup semi final" headlines. That must surely be the end of the roller coaster ride if we want to remain in the top flight next season. In my view Salisu, Tella, or Adams, and Djenepo should replace three of Monday's non performers, but I'm sure other supporters have different perspectives. Personally, even with in excess of sixty years support through thick and thin, I'm still deflated by the ease with which West Brom took us apart. Fair play to them, and their much maligned manager, but if we don't see a reaction to the defeat then something is badly wrong with the leadership at St Mary's.
12

geezershoong1 added 12:01 - Apr 14
Sounds like whoever wrote this article is only trying convince themselves.

A follow up article after a Vardy hat-trick in a whopping defeat should be even funnier.
-8

SaintPaulVW added 12:23 - Apr 14
He started the side that I thought he should against WBA. I'd be a hypocrite if I said now he got the team selection wrong. I accept the point that has been made on Minamino tho, if he can't play Sunday, why was he rested on Monday? The only thing I will lay at Ralph's feet is that with the team as a whole having an off day and cup places up for grabs he didn't make changes earlier.

If he had got someone on to run at them, Tella Djenepo, after the second goal we may... MAY ..have been looking at a different result. When we adjusted formation in the second half there was a brief drop in confidence but we made nothing of it.

RH has played a bad hand well for most of his time with us. I just hope that minds were elsewhere on Monday and we can see more of a Burnley type performance on Sunday.

COYR



7

felly1 added 13:02 - Apr 14
I certainly don't want to see Ralph getting sacked but on current form and I'm talking about half a seasons worth of form, we are going to be relegation candidates next season and we can't fully rule the possibility out for this season.
I really hope he finds a way through this and a semi final win against a very strong Leicester side would be fantastic.
Quite simply the squad as a whole is at best a mid table side, at worst championship fodder and more realistically we are about the same as Brighton...ie just about enough to hang on in the Prem.
Let's face it we don't want to play like Burnley to survive in the Prem, but under Ralph's much more positive style of football it leaves us defensively exposed time and time again and we really need to get the balance right The club should back him with a few more quality additions to the squad and he has to revise his philosophy and be a little more savvy and pragmatic as you approach each particular game...ie Chelsea at home this season where we did a decent job of soaking up the pressure before getting an equaliser then holding on. It's seems to be either win or heavy defeat and very little middle ground. Let's hope these last 7 or 8 games we can turn it on, but I have my doubts if I'm being honest.
7

I_would added 13:07 - Apr 14
You need help you're a masochist.
-3

JoeEgg added 13:26 - Apr 14
"Call me old fashioned, but in almost half a century of following this club, this is better than most seasons.

Yes perhaps we will fail against Leicester City, but at least we were in a position to compete."

So now this can be -our best ever season' has been conveniently replaced to read just "better than most seasons"!

Our opponents on Sunday are Leicester - and look what they have achieved in the past 10 seasons. They dont have anything more going for them in terms of resources than the Saints - but they, unlike Southampton, have made the most of these precious assets. Stop making excuses Nick with such small minded aspirations for our Club. We can and should do better, much better, and at least as well as Leicester have done.
Maybeit all has omething to do with the respective choices of their current manager? Maybe not, but Ralph is running out of time and chances.

So now you can call me old fashioned too - also with half a century of following the Saints - but quite simply Nick, your perspective on this season is just plain WRONG!
2

WestSussexSaint added 13:30 - Apr 14
I am Hassenhuttl supporter and I do agree with the article that we are better off now than when Ralph arrived.

What I cannot fathom though is why we see such a wide range of performances from week to week. As fans we never know if we are going to see the side that beat Liverpool etc. or the inept performance from Monday. I accept earlier in the season that injuries had a big bearing on the results but that excuse cannot be used for the match against WBA where it was largely the first choice XI.

Is it the players with one eye on the cup? Are the players we have simply not good enough? Are Ralph’s tactics not working and too one dimensional? Does he struggle to man manage and motivate the players when the chips are down? I cannot work it out?

Realistically we will be in the PL next season and Ralph will be our manager. However he has to sort out the answer to these questions and others so that the league form can be a bit more consistent and we can become the regular top 10 side I think most fans would consider success. Failure to do so is likely to lead to a change. I’m sure the Saints black box has identified the options.
5

ExiledSupporter added 13:47 - Apr 14
I have been a supporter since 1966 and have seen some tremendous moments of (transitory) success and quite a few occasions of humiliating disaster. I do not use any form of social media which I abhor. While I appreciate the mostly sensible commentaries from you, Nick, and appreciate your long commitment to the cause, there are some remarks that you have made recently which seem to me to be somewhat delusional eg. the idea that this could yet be our greatest season...because we could avoid relegation again and win the FA Cup!

I do agree with you that Ralf brings a number of things to the club which we have sorely missed for far too long. I admire him for his obvious integrity, honesty, commitment, skill in improving players' skill sets and until recently ability to motivate his squad.

I'm not so sure about the latter after the woeful performance vs WBA, they outclassed us for most of the game by doing the simple things extremely well, by being direct, by applying an effective press for most of the game and seemingly having far more energy than most of our players.

I completely accept that there are many mitigating circumstances this odd season which Ralf has uniquely, in our club's history, had to overcome. Despite all this our record has been erratic for most of his tenure. Spells of consistent success and spells of dismal, sequential defeats have occurred like the passing of the seasons.

Each year we have been fortunate enough to be not quite bad enough to be relegated, but as you say this has often been down to the greater failings of those clubs who have had less time to dwell in the PL, but spend much of their time rising and falling with the tide - clubs like Norwich, Huddersfield, Hull, Sunderland, Watford, Swansea, Fulham, West Brom etc Others are chronic underperformers Newcastle, Stoke, West Ham (until very recently), Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and perhaps Saints too. I certainly feel that we should expect to be more consistently successful than the likes of Burnley, Brighton and Sheffield United

What I would like to understand better is why we are not more like teams that I feel we should be more comparable with like Leicester, Wolves and West Ham currently, Why aren't we customarily somewhere in the, say, 7th to 12th league positions at the end of the season?

Well the reasons are obvious:
- we lack the financial resources (no wealthy benefactor, limited crowd attendance, limited overseas appeal from a marketing perspective etc
- necessarily a selling club with a consequent high turnover in quality players who are replaced at best (though not often) by promising younger players who are often from abroad and take several seasons to adjust to the demands of the PL. Frequently they are replaced by significantly cheaper players who do not become regulars - we've had plenty of those over many years. Why how is it that some teams seem to buy in remarkably talented players whom none of us have barely ever heard of yet seem to make their mark forcibly? Pereira, St Maximin, Watkins, Raphinha, Neto, Almiron etc
- who is responsible for player recruitment now and where are we looking for talent?
- after many years of quality academy 'stars' that stream seems to have now reduced to a dribble
- a complete inability to attract, select and retain quality managers (on balance I do think that Ralf is one of those, despite some current obvious failings) But Koeman and Pochetino were by any measure far superior to those next three who followed them.
- some of the players in the current crop are just not good enough.Tthe first touches of Walcott and Adams and Minamino are terrible and only Adams seems occasionally to be a reliable source of goals though he does take some of the pressure of Ings who needs a strike partner. At least Adams is not easily knocked off the ball and challenges the opposition, though he is not often found in the opponents box and his capacity to miss sitters (eg. last minute vs Burnley) is remarkable, sorry I should say depressing!
-it's clear to all that we need a larger squad to better manage injuries, loss of form etc. Ralf has failed here in prefering to work with a smaller squad, supposedly, but we need serious competition at full back and in the forward line.

Irrespective of Ings future we need at least another reliable striker who can play with his back to goal when necessary and hold the ball up and bully the opposition in their penalty area. This would give us some greater adaptability to change our tactics when we need to

Consistently the best player for the last couple of seasons has been Armstrong, unlike anyone else in the team he seems both the most likely to be an effective captain and an influential creative force. He plays with his head up and seems to have an excellent engine with good acceleration and a goal threat. I saw no evidence of JWP providing any captaincy skills on Monday; too many sideways passes (like Ray Wilkins) and a general unwillingness to take the ball very far forward. Great free kicks, but he needs to take calculated risks to drive us forward. He so often seems to play within his potential.
The lethargy of last Monday was clearly evident in the defence, particularly on our left flank and Diallo, who I have been impressed with, had his worst game. Salisu also looks promising and Djenepo seems to be gradually making the grade (as an impact sub)

There are so many moving parts that contribute to our current though enduring unstable circumstances that it is quite difficult to prioritise the steps forward, but we must sought things out this summer for once and for all and yes, I do still thing that Ralf represents the best prospect of doing this, but he has to achieve far greater consistency of commitment and performance on the pitch...urgently
10

mattlegod added 13:51 - Apr 14
I agree, Ralph has made some mistakes, but for me he and the club deserve the summer and early next season to put things right. Once we have the right number of capable players in all positions and strengthen where needed there can then be no excuse and we should be looking at a top 10 finish next season.
6

Colburn added 13:56 - Apr 14
Poor article. You suggest there have been disgraceful comments about Ralph after Monday.. Like what? Fans are allowed to criticise ans allowed to voice an opinion when they can see things going quickly downhill.. You say if this and if that, but they mean nothing because they didn't happen! We didn't win matches here and there through the season, we had a great start and an appalling few months since, so this angle of approach is meaningless. The fact is the same mistakes are being made and the man management has been poor, so poor that the players didn't bother at West Brom. Bottlers should not be starting a semi final and this is Ralph's fault because he set them up mentally and selected the team. We are on a one way street downwards again since January and at this point, the cup means nothing. Are we seriously going to beat Leicester and Man C? Possibly, but it isn't worth the sacrifices we have made because its not Watford and Fulham standing between us and silverware, it's Leicester and City or Chelsea. Lose on Sunday and the team will give up for the rest of the season, this is what I see in the body language.
2

Colburn added 14:01 - Apr 14
And it seems you are blind to the bigger picture, maybe focus on the one true aspect of this week, the performance at the Hawthorns was a disgrace and an insult to locked down Saints fans who have had little to look forward to over the last year. They get paid tens of thousands per week and then bottle out of challenges like Redmond did constantly on Monday. This is a kick in the teeth to passionate supporters, and you can argue and find excuses but you wasting your time here.. Not having wool pulled over my eyes by a weak piece accusing the fans of being disgraceful or short sighted. Joker..
2

SanMarco added 14:16 - Apr 14
It has to be remembered that this semi is different from any other one. It doesn't matter about our mood/morale because none of us are going. It does matter that we were SO poor on Monday - I was beginning to dare to hope an upset was on the cards but WBA put that back in the box - Saints as always are welcome to prove me wrong.

As for Ralph - he is clearly being given lots of time by the club and seems willing to reciprocate which I think is good (make no mistake he will have suitors even though his stock has fallen since Christmas.) At virtually all other times and clubs he would have been gone by now. Next season will be make or break for him - he really needs to get us on an even keel, have a system that can last for 90 minutes and fits the players he has. He won't survive a very poor start to next season (even if we are cup holders I would venture to say.)
6

WoolstonSaint2 added 14:18 - Apr 14
Seriously? You want a manager- who has been 'in charge of two 9-0 defeats, a home defeat by Brighton, a stuffing at WBA, one of the worst defensive records in the PL, 10 defeats in.our last 12 PL games, and a spineless, gutless performance from.his team most weeks- to stay? In Ralph we trust? Really?
0

AirFlorida added 16:56 - Apr 14
Two wins in two for Mr Adkins 😎 Ralph is a passionate for sure but he has proven time and time again that he can't turn things round fast enough- in game and between matches. Yes we can wheel out the well laid out excuses normally posted on here but I'm bored of these same excuses. A big part of managing is getting your team to play for you AND to understand what gets your players performing - even if that means simplifying tactics. Not for the first time, especially defensively, we looked clueless, lost, against wba. Unfortunately I think Ralph and Saints are wedded together. We can't afford another managerial change and Ralph is certainly at the moment damage goods with a couple of 9-0s to his cv and a terrible run of defeats. Hey if we win the semis then I'll try to believe in him again but right now I do not trust Ralph and I'm bracing myself for the heaviest defeat in FA Cup semi final history 😣
0

saintmark1976 added 18:07 - Apr 14
If Saints had any money to pay off his contract they would have sacked Ralph on the basis of his league record since Christmas. They don’t have any money so he stays.It really is that simple Nick.
-2

Sadoldgit added 18:49 - Apr 14
It makes me chuckle when I read the complaints about pundits always going on about the 9-0 defeats and the same posters then drag up the results themselves every time we lose a football match. The club are right to stand by Ralph. He is a decent manager and will end up at a bigger club in time. What the club now need to do is find some money so that he can build a squad capable of playing his way consistently.
-2

wrathoftazz added 12:59 - Apr 15
What a pile of utter rubbish. Last I checked, he has taken us to 2 (TWO) 9NIL defeats and leading the league to nearly relegation within 4months.

Don't get me wrong, I think Ralph as a bloke is a stand up guy. However, Ralph as a manager is just not there.

All to often I hear money this and hands tied that and yet we get our arses handed to us by a team with less money.

The excuses have gotten old, fans do not expect him to win the league and we don't even mind loosing, but we do mind loosing in the way we do, followed by the same old BS. We do mind being 2nil down and subs only made in the 85th minute (several times) we don't even mind the guy making mistakes, but we do mind him making the SAME mistakes, week in, week out.
5

GeordieSaint added 13:31 - Apr 15
I’m in. I love the guy. Yeah fair enough there has been a lot of disappointment recently and maybe sometimes the subs or not tweaking tactics an be questioned but I think we probably would have been relegated without him. He has had a transfer budget of pennies and anyone thinking saints is a dream job for a que of top managers is deluded. Good luck to everyone concerned at the weekend and hopefully we will be able to look forward to a cup final.
0

Foreverred added 20:30 - Apr 15
From a football fans perception of the football that I want to see saints play, I am like any other fan who wants success for my club, I know there are limitations on how far we can achieve as a club. I am under no illusion that under the structure of how the club is run ,we have to be realistic .so to reach cup finals, and win it would be a high achievement for a club of our size, there are clubs bigger than ours like Newcastle,West Ham,Aston villa, who have not reach as many semi finals and final that we have had in recent years,so we must be grateful for that. We played good football at the start of this season, topping the table at one stage. But our squad is small compared to other clubs, and once the injuries started to mount up so our form dipped.whatever happens In the cup this season remains to be seen, we have played entertaining attacking football under Ralph this , season, sometimes to our detriment We will achieve premiership safety ,so we will be seeing top class football next season ,whether that enough for some of us remains to be seen. But on the other hand we could be playing dull unentertaining football like the season2016/17 under Claude puel where we finished 8th in the league,and a league cup final place at Wembley but still we were not satisfied and Claude was sacked ,unfairly in my opinion. So we the fans must make up our minds, entertaining football under Ralph with poor periods along the way, or defensive minded football, boring at times like under puel with relative success, I suppose we can’t have both ways.
But remember saints fans be careful what you wish for especially in Claude puel case we didn’t know how well off we were.
0

davidargyll added 09:05 - Apr 16
As usual a lot of bloggers on here go into melt down because we got stuffed by a team that is desperate. Sack Ralph, etc.
And we were off our game for very obvious reasons.
How would they have reacted if we had won and had a couple more injuries?
Yes it wasn’t pretty but frankly who cares?
We WILL survive and WBA probably won’t.
And we’ve got a game to win on Sunday when we do have good reason to play at the top of our game.
Yes we might get stuffed. But don’t you think that the Foxes might be just a little over confident?
1


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