You could forgive Ralph Hasenhuttl for feeling a tad reflective this morning. Fresh from a 9-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United, he will rightly be asking questions of his Southampton team. And after suffering the ignominy of two 9-0 defeats in two seasons, Hasenhuttl will no doubt be asking questions of himself too.
It’s not a good look on his CV, that’s for sure. It’s a tragedy that he might be tarred forever as “that manager”. But he shouldn’t be, because there’s much more to his legacy with Southampton.
Let down by his players once againEmbed from Getty Images
Once Mike Dean flashed a straight red card after just one minute of play, it was never going to be an easy night. Saints’ Alex Jankewitz fully deserved to be dismissed – his tackle on Scott McTominay was horrendous.
Even with ten men, they could’ve bagged a couple of goals. Only the wasteful Che Adams stopped them from getting back into the game. It might have been a different game had at least one chance gone in.
As the goals rained in, the players’ heads dropped further – not the response he needed. As with the 9-0 Leicester drubbing last season, in both defeats the players downed tools when Hasenhuttl needed them to step up.Embed from Getty Images
Don’t let 9-0 defeats overshadow Hasenhuttl achievements
Let’s not forget that in November, the Saints were top of the Premier League. A remarkable turnaround from their Leicester low point just 5 months earlier. Hasenhuttl was rightly rewarded a four-year contract extension for the progress he’d made. Considering the life cycle of managers at St Mary’s, that’s remarkable.
His playing style has made him one of the most revered coaches in the English game. It depends very much on team spirit and formational structure working in sync. So when the balance of the team was disrupted against United, the players had to work harder.
They certainly didn’t do that.
There will rightly be a post-mortem of the horror show that unfolded at Old Trafford. But any #HasenhuttlOut hashtags need to simmer down.
In fact, Ralph Hasenhuttl is still the best thing to happen to Southampton in recent times. He will bounce back from this – but some of his players definitely will need to take a long look at themselves.