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ANALYSIS: Ralph Hasenhüttl favourite for Southampton job following sacking of Mark Hughes

Former RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhüttl is favourite to replace Mark Hughes as manager of Southampton.

The Saints sacked Hughes on Monday just 14 games in to the Premier League season.

They went 2-0 up against Manchester United at St. Mary’s on Saturday, but Jose Mourinho’s men brought it back to 2-2 to salvage a point.

Hughes has struggled since taking over in March, winning just five out of his 27 games in charge, and only one league game this season.

Southampton sit 18th in the table and will now be looking to bring in their fourth manager in just over two years in an attempt to bounce back and avoid relegation.

First-team assistant coach Kelvin Davis (below) will take charge for their Premier League clash against Tottenham at Wembley on Wednesday.

Hughes took over from Argentinian Mauricio Pellegrino, just two months after he was sacked by Stoke City.

At the time of his appointment, the Saints sat just one point above the relegation zone, but Hughes led Southampton to safety by winning two of the last four games of the season to avoid the drop and finish 17th.

Despite securing safety, Hughes has struggled to pick up points in his time in charge, winning just three of 22 league games.

Although they claimed a credible draw against United, it was the results prior to this that determined Hughes’ fate.

With a 3-2 loss against relegation rivals Fulham and a penalty shoot-out defeat in the Carabao Cup against Leicester, results have been poor for Southampton and it isn’t a surprise they are now looking for change.

The Southampton board were patient with Pellegrino, and nearly left it too late in their bid for survival, and this appears as though the Saints have learnt from their mistakes as they look to strengthen their league position much earlier this time round with an early sacking.

On top of poor performances and results, Hughes’ signings really haven’t worked, with £16 million winger Mohamed Elyounoussi still yet to score for the Saints, and £22.5 million centre-back Jannik Vestergaard struggling for game-time.

Now all Southampton fans eagerly await the appointment of their next boss, and there’s already a lot of speculation over who that may be…

FIVE POTENTIAL REPLACEMENTS

1. Ralph Hasenhüttl
The Austrian was last in charge at RB Leipzig, where he did the impossible when he took the newly promoted side into a Champions League spot. It would be a monumental ask for him to do the same with Southampton, but fans would have reason to be excited with this appointment, as the attacking style of football implemented by Hasenhüttl could really complement some of the forward talent already within the squad. He is the bookies favourite at 2/7 (SkyBet).

2. Quique Sanchez Flores
Recently managing in the Premier League for Watford, the Spaniard would be a sensible appointment based on his previous performance at the Hornets. Quique guided Watford to a mid-table finish in the league and also to semi-finals of the F.A. Cup. His last job at Espanyol didn’t go to plan, which could be of some concern to Southampton, however he is a manager who has succeeded in England and could do so at St Mary’s. Quique Sanchez Flores is at 6/1 to take over (SkyBet).

3. Sam Allardyce
It’s rare that ‘Big Sam’ isn’t involved in the mix when a struggling side is looking for a manager, and his record of keeping teams in the division speaks for itself. However, it’s fair to say that Allardyce is probably not the best option for long term, but he could be perfect if survival is the main priority in the eyes of the Southampton board. His brand of football may not be that pleasing to the eye, but his ability to grind out results would be a welcome addition to a team that has struggled to do just that. Big Sam is at 7/1 (SkyBet).

4. David Moyes
The Scotsman has had a strange career within the Premier League, consistently performing at Everton, only to follow that with a nightmare spell at Manchester United when he succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson. His most recent employment was in London, where he did well to take West Ham from relegation battlers to 13th in the League. Again, this appointment would appear to be a short-term fix. Get Moyes at 12/1 (SkyBet).

5. Paolo Sousa
It was reported last week that Paolo Sousa was in contact with Southampton, but it remained unclear if the Portuguese was interested in the job. Sousa has done well outside of England, winning titles as a manager in Hungary, Israel and Switzerland. Despite this, his last job in England ended poorly at Leicester, with Sousa winning only once in his first nine league games. Paolo Sousa is at 14/1 (SkyBet).

A statement from the club said:

“We would like to express our thanks to Mark and his staff for all of their efforts during their time at St Mary’s.

“The search for a new manager to take the club forward is already under way.”

 

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