Saturday, Southampton took a point in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. That wasn’t enough for manager Mark Hughes to keep his job, though. Eight months after appointing him, the Saints would sack him.
“Southampton Football Club can today confirm it has parted company with First Team Manager Mark Hughes,” the club announced. “…We would like to express our thanks to Mark and his staff for all of their efforts during their time at St Mary’s.”
Perhaps this statistic from OptaJoe is the biggest reason why. After all, we’re talking about a lot of points here…
20 – Since Mark Hughes was appointed Southampton manager in March 2018, they have dropped 20 points from winning positions in the Premier League; eight more than any other team. Handshake. pic.twitter.com/7im1HqRRMs
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 3, 2018
Southampton are firmly in a relegation battle after 14 matches. They’re on nine points, placing them one point from safety. However, this relegation battle is loaded. That means the Saints need to get their next hire exactly right. Which brings us to the most surprising part: they’re reportedly not targeting another EPL retread. Per the Guardian’s Ben Fisher, Southampton is targeting former RB Leipzig and Ingolstadt manager Ralph Hasenhüttl.
In October of 2013, Hasenhüttl took over Ingolstadt. During his first season, they went from the bottom of the table to 10th place in 2. Bundesliga. The following season, they won the league title. And after that, Ingolstadt survived the 2015-16 Bundesliga campaign. However, Hasenhüttl didn’t return, choosing instead to manage Leipzig. His first season in charge, the newly-promoted side took second. Last season, they fell to sixth and he left.
Reports indicate that Southampton are also keeping an eye on Quique Sánchez Flores. He oversaw Watford’s 2015-16 season before managing Espanyol. At the very least, it looks like Saints won’t hire an EPL retread. And that’s important to note. Sure, the likes of David Moyes or Sam Allardyce could provide a quick fix. Why do that, though? Why continue to repeat that trend?
If Southampton want to actually make progress, they have to take a chance.