Hasenhüttl: My most important matches

By SFC Media time Sat 05 Dec Ralph Hasenhuttl
Photo by James Bridle | Ralph Hasenhüttl

It perhaps tells you a lot about Ralph Hasenhüttl that, when asked for the most important games from his first two years as Southampton manager, two of the three he picks out are not victories, but defeats.

When Hasenhüttl arrived at St Mary’s in December 2018, he came with the motto that “either we win, or we learn.”

Over these past 24 months, he admits the education has been an intense one, but, while the successes are the most enjoyable part – a dramatic 3-2 win over Arsenal in his first game still stands out – for the Saints boss it is often what you are taught in the face of adversity that retains the greatest value.

"The first win was a big one, it was important,” he said of the meeting with an Arsenal team that had arrived at St Mary’s unbeaten in 22 games, shortly after his appointment.

“Then the coming back after the defeat against Cardiff at home, when we conceded twice, with the last goal in the overtime and lost this game.

“Suddenly we were below the line, and still a long way to go to be safe in the league. I think it was a nasty moment.”

From there, though, things got markedly better in Hasenhüttl’s first season, as he guided the team to safety.

But some challenging moments still lay ahead, and it is no surprise that one particular game, on that stormy October 2019 night at home to Leicester, lives with Hasenhüttl as a defining moment in his time as manager.

“This is a situation I have never had in my managerial career,” he said. “It's normal that it has a big impact in my history.

“What happened afterwards, that we are now since then I think the fourth best team in the league, that's something you can be proud of.

“That's something you make with a few decisions that you took at the time, and it's maybe a turnaround you don't get very often as a manager. Normally it is the next manager who gets this turnaround, not you. But if you get the chance to do it and you can do it like this then that is something you can be proud of, and this is something I am really proud of and something I will take for the future also. It's a massive experience that helps, definitely.

it's like in a chess game when you are in a very bad position, you are still thinking about what is the solution.

ralph hasenhüttl
southampton manager

"I remember that it was a tough time, the nights were not nice. You go to bed with problems and you wake up with problems, and you see only issues everywhere, then it takes a lot of energy from you and costs a lot of energy, but I think the good thing is, like in a chess game when you are in a very bad position, you are still thinking about what is the solution, how can I come out of this, and if you don't stop doing this then I think you always focus on the solution to the issue and not just the issue itself.

“This is what in the end turned this negativity into a positive energy, and then you can still find the right decisions then. This is what we have done since that moment and it was good we then got the results we needed to come up from it.”

Since then, there have been many results to savour. So, what have been the highlights for Hasenhüttl in that time?

"The win against Man City, I have never won against Guardiola before with one of my teams, so that was a massive win, definitely,” he said.

“But also some games like now this season against Burnley or Newcastle, these were games we lost last season and then suddenly you see you have found the right way to play against such teams it gives you a massive lift definitely.”


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