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Revamp Of Saints Coaching Set Up Long Overdue
Wednesday, 27th Apr 2022 10:45

Over the past few years I have often highlighted the lack of coaching experience on the Southampton bench to help and assist Ralph Hasenhuttl , now it seems that is about to change.

When Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived at St Mary's he arrived at a club that was struggling to balance the books due to a number of players on high wages who were either not getting into the first team or were out on loan with only a portion of their sizable wages being paid by the club they were out on loan with.

This created a log jam, Saints problem wasn't so much transfer fees, but the burden on the annual wage bill, this meant that we didn't have the money to make signings when needed until we managed to get those not contributing to the club off the wage bill.

But it wasn't just on the playing side that bringing the right personnel was not affordable, but also the coaching side, Hasenhuttl was able to bring in an assistant, initially Danny Rohl, but otherwise he had to accept those that the club themselves provided.

But I have long maintained that those coaches did not have the experience necessary to aid Hasenhuttl and the situation worsened when Danny Rohl left for Bayern Munich, he was replaced by Richard Kitzbichler, who although he had worked with Ralph before, was not a coach in the true sense of the word, but a more analytic type, he is often seen on the bench monitoring stats on his laptop.

Although he clearly plays a vital part in the coaching set up, he is not the type of man Ralph can talk tactics with during a game, someone to run things by and advice.

Nor are any of the other coaches, you rarely see Ralph in conversation with any of the other coaching staff during game, he cuts a lonely figure in the technical area and none of his coaching staff seem to consult with him.

As I said there is little or no experience on the bench, Kelvin Davis went almost overnight from being a club ambassador welcoming corporate guests to St Mary's, to being a first team coach.

David Watson, was a good goalkeeping coach for many years, but then he switched to being a specialist coach to being an outfield coach.

The third coach is Craig Fleming, whilst he had a long career in professional football, most notably with Oldham in the Premier League and then Norwich, when he joined Saints in 2015, his only coaching experience had been with Lowestoft Town where he had spent 7 years guiding them to the Conference South.

At St Mary's he joined the U18 academy set up where he spent 3 years before moving up to the U23's in 2018, he didn't spend long there with Mark Hughes being sacked and the coaching staff in disarray after 3 managers in a little over 18 months, he found himself in the first team set up.

So over the past three years the general coaching staff is not bristling with coaching experience, but I suspect that this is more to due with the financial situation over that period of time more than anything else.

It lacks not only experience but variety and aside from the goalkeeping coach, it appears that there are no specialist coaches and we pay the price for that at the back.

I cannot imagine that the players themselves are impressed with the coaching set up, players respect those that have been there and done it in the profession, with respect to our coaching staff, I don't think that they can command that respect, yes they will have picked up experience over the last three years, but none of them have gained experience at Premier League level at other clubs and gained knowledge.

But that according to some reports in the media is about to change, the arrival of Sport Republic aligned with several big salaries coming off the wage bill freeing up money to allow other areas to be financed.

This could well be a big factor in improving our squad, players need coaches in specialist positions, we sign young players but do not provide specialist coaching assistance to help them learn.

Now it seems that could change and Ralph Hasenhuttl had this to say when asked about the situation.

“Sure, we have also spoken about these opportunities we have,” Hasenhuttl told the Daily Echo.

“We are always open minded about going new ways and definitely everything that makes us better, everything that makes us more competitive, we will think about it – this is for sure.”

“We have always our eyes open and thinking about what we can change in the future but I think it is not the day to speak about it,” he added, though.

“We have still a few games to go, but you can be sure that in the background we are always planning for the next season.”

Ralph has to be guarded about what he says, after all he has worked alongside these guys for 3 1/2 years, but both he and Sport Republic surely know the situation is not ideal.

But Davis, Watson & Forrest have all been at the club a long time now, they are loyal servants and do not deserve to be just cast aside, they have to be managed into other roles, perhaps still with the first team squad, but in different roles.

Some have been critical of Ralph Hasenhuttl, but I would contest that he has done a good job in difficult circumstances, a main criticism would be that he makes some strange selection decisions, to a degree i would agree with that, but it is clear that he has little help from his coaching staff and hopefully if we change that, then things will start to improve.

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PaleRider added 11:06 - Apr 27
Spot on!

dwayne_dibley added 11:31 - Apr 27

DellBoyWally added 12:20 - Apr 27
I understand that on one occasion Richard Kitzbichler had his head in his laptop until RH pointed out he was watching the famous frozen pond scene from Bambi and not Saints although the confusion is easy to understand!!
An ex GK, former top GK coach and a specialist GK coach - so why the confusion over our GK for the past few years?!?!
Move 2 on to pay for a defensive coach, move on some excess midfielders to pay for a midfield coach. 2 posts filled without resorting to new money! Get a "proper" assistant for RH and a striking coach. (and a striker??)
It's easy running a football club!!

davidargyll added 13:19 - Apr 27
A defensive coach is vital.
And summed no better than by looking at a couple of interesting stats:
If we had let in just ONE GOAL FEWER IN ONLY OUR HOME GAMES THIS SEASON, believe it or not we would be 18 points better off and…6th!
But if we’d kept one goal more out in ALL our games, we’d be 34 points better off and playing …Champions League football!!!
Such are the fine margins that suggest with some judicious coaching in the right areas, we really could be much higher up the table.

underweststand added 16:59 - Apr 27
Good article ( Nick) but I might add that although young players may come through the Academy, no-one is " born to a footballer". Likewise no-ex-player is "born to be a coach" and (whether or not) they have FIFA coaching badges doesn't automatically make them
" a good coach ". Many successful players never make the grade as managers, and most of the 1966 England squad never had any sort success as managers.
That also applies today as both ex-England legends; Gerrard and Lampard have had uphill tasks in their managerial careers.

On the contrary, Managers like Wenger and Klopp had no real pro-career to write home about but still became very successful Prem. managers. (I won't put Ferguson in quite the same category, but his Scottish career wasn't exactly " top class " either).

Getting back to Saints' coaches...Dave Watson (ex England coach) and Kelvin Davis (Saints longest-serving goalie) surely have something to offer, bearing in mind you can only work with those you have in the club and no-one can "make a purse out of a sow's ear". Good young keepers are hard to find and unlike outfield players can take many seasons to bring to fruition. There is more " science " in the game nowadays and coaches who spend half their life studying players, videos and tactics are likely to be as much value as a player with 300 games to his credit, but who can't teach his skills / talent effectively.

Being a good coach (or manager) is often down to personality and management skills, getting respect AND results. The hugely successful Liverpool teams in the 1970's were so easy to select that (jokingly) even the tea lady at Anfield could have managed them.

Managers tend to choose players and formation they knew themselves. Ronald Koeman (an attacking MF who scored more goals than many strikers) liked his attacking formation, whereas defensive players like Puel and Pellegrino played more dour football in the hope of keeping a clean sheet and grabbing one goal to win the game.
As a former striker himself Ralph's style is obvious, but he has been badly hampered by a lack of funds to buy " real quality " players - with the obvious exception of Danny Ings. Most players he brought in have done well enough (all things considered) and done better than expected, but few can be classed as more than "average Prem. players ".

With a 25 man Prem. squad plus B team and an U18 Academy to cope with, Ralph has a priority for the Prem. side but must rely on others to give good input for those coming up in the ranks. Maybe we need some new faces in the coaching staff, but my thought is - ... Do we have enough already, and do we need even more specialists ?


IanRC added 22:45 - Apr 27
Agree it can we please have Mr Mitchell back before United take him for recruitment.

kingolaf added 07:41 - Apr 28
Whole backroom staff needs to be cleared out, not least Ralph.

I genuinely can’t understand why anyone would want him to carry on.

wrathoftazz added 21:25 - Apr 29
More excuses for a crap manager.

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