Ralph Hasenhuttl: Southampton sack Mark Hughes and set to approach Austrian

Ralph Hasenhuttl: Southampton sack Mark Hughes and set to approach Austrian

Southampton are set to approach former RB Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuttl after sacking manager Mark Hughes on Monday.

Hughes was sacked eight months after taking charge, with the Saints 18th in the Premier League table.

Austrian Hasenhuttl, 51, has been out of work since leaving Leipzig in May, ending a two-year spell at the club.

He led them to a second-place finish in the Bundesliga in his first season in charge, after taking over following their promotion from the second tier.

The former Ingolstadt manager finished sixth in the German top-flight last season but left Leipzig after failing to agree a contract extension.

After sacking Hughes, Southampton said in a statement that “the search for a new manager to take the club forward is already under way”.

First-team assistant coach Kelvin Davis will take charge for the game against Tottenham at Wembley on Wednesday.

Hughes, who also had a spell at the south coast club during his playing career, joined Southampton in March, two months after being sacked by Stoke City.

The club were one point above the relegation zone at the time and the 55-year-old led them to safety last season by securing two wins from their last four games.

However, they have struggled again this season and, across his spell, have won just three of their 22 league games.

His last game in charge was a 2-2 draw with Manchester United but before that Southampton were beaten 3-2 by relegation rivals Fulham and knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by Leicester.

Along with Hughes, assistant first-team manager Mark Bowen and coach Eddie Niedzwiecki have also left.

Analysis

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer

Southampton’s hierarchy were never going to make the same mistake as last season when they almost left it too late to sack Mauricio Pellegrino as they dropped towards relegation.

It meant added pressure on Mark Hughes, who presided over their survival, and his dismal win record of three wins from 22 league games made this decision inevitable.

Hughes has told regular hard luck stories this season but eventually the script becomes tired when performances, even though they were decent enough on occasions, simply do not get results.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Southampton may now reflect on their decision to give Hughes a three-year contract in the afterglow of retaining their Premier League status, rather than thanking him for his efforts and returning to the drawing board.

Saints vice-chairman Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter have already gone and the sweep has continued with Hughes’ sacking. These are changing times at St Mary’s.

As for Hughes, it is hard to see where he will go next after successive sackings at Stoke and Southampton in so short a time.

He joins other old managerial heads like Sam Allardyce, David Moyes and Alan Pardew on the margins.

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