Southampton's Rise Under Hasenhüttl Highlights Rewards of Ignoring the Itchy Trigger Finger

​On 25th October, Southampton faced Leicester City at St Mary's, and beleaguered boss Ralph Hasenhüttl called on his players to claim their first home win since mid-April. In response, Saints lost 9-0, putting in one of the worst displays that the Premier League has ever witnessed. 

The club stunk of neglect and relegation, and the writing was on the wall for their desperate coach. History and modern-day football said it was time to go.

Fast-forward almost three months, and the previously bereft Saints once again took on the side who had inflicted upon them the worst home defeat in Premier League history. 

Brendan Rodgers,Ralph Hasenhuttl

As Denis Praet rounded off a ruthless Leicester counter-attack after only 14 minutes on Saturday afternoon, Southampton supporters must have been dreading a repeat of their recent mauling by the Foxes.

But it wasn't to be.  

Hasenhüttl's men dug in and shocked the entire league by turning the deficit on its head, coming away from the King Power Stadium with an unbelievable 2-1 victory. It was the ultimate show of character, belief and unity with their previously written-off coach, and a sign of just how far this team has come in such a short space of time. 

But how did they arrive at this point? 

The club had a big decision to make following their utter humiliation at the hands of Leicester: sack him, or back him? The board sided with the Austrian coach, who had worked wonders in his previous role at RB Leipzig. The men and women in charge agreed that the blame must fall at the feet of the players, who were simply not applying themselves adequately for their dejected boss. 

David Silva

It was a stance that has rarely been taken by a club's hierarchy. After all, it's much easier to sack one man than to simultaneously put 25 noses out of joint. But that's exactly what the Southampton board did. 

Player power had not won the day, and with time and backing on his side, Hasenhüttl set about rebuilding the future of his team. 

Further defeats to ​Manchester City and Everton saw the Austrian make a tactical switch to the team, which may well have saved his job - and saved Southampton from a dreaded relegation battle. 

Hasenhüttl scrapped his back three, which had been haemorrhaging goals throughout he campaign, and instead reverted to an unfashionable - but effective - 4-4-2 formation. 

'Back to basics' brought points back on the scoreboard. 

Young goalkeeper Angus Gunn was replaced by the experienced Alex McCarthy, and the Southampton coach settled on Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens at the heart of his defence. It was a formula which had to work for the under-fire boss, and luckily, it was a winning formula. 

Unai Emery,Ralph Hasenhuttl

Hasenhüttl's tactical astuteness caught out ​Arsenal boss Unai Emery, and having dominated the entire 90 minutes, Saints were seconds away from earning a huge three points at the Emirates stadium - only to concede at the very death. 

A hammer blow, but the green shoots of life were visible for all to see. The players hadn't given up, and there was something bubbling away underneath the surface. 

A last-gasp equaliser can crush a team, but it was the springboard for this determined Saints team, who put together a string of impressive results, including stunning victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and a statement success over Leicester. 

From relegation certainties to mid-table security. 

Since the 2-1 defeat to ​Everton which brought about the change in shape, Saints have shipped only ten goals in ten matches, compared to 13 goals in the three games prior. Hasenhüttl's men have accrued 20 points in that time, which is only eight shy of their entire tally for the campaign. 

Their turnaround has been boosted by the incredible scoring run that striker ​Danny Ings has put together, notching a wonderful 13 goals this season to help steer his club away from any relegation dangers. 

Danny Ings,Shane Long

The former ​Liverpool man has struck up a fearsome partnership with the tireless Shane Long, whose energy and willingness to chase every lost cause embodies his coach's never-say-die attitude. 

The wide players possess bags of energy themselves, and the central midfield boasts a lovely blend of technique and physical presence in James Ward-Prowse and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.

It's simple, effective - and not harsh on the eyes, either. 

​But whilst Ings and co will grab the headlines, this resurgence would never have been possible without their outstanding manager. In the face of adversity, Hasenhüttl has proved he is more valuable to Southampton than the individuals in the squad, and the board backed the right horse. 

The troops have finally fallen in line behind their general, and his determination and hunger is at last being replicated on the pitch. 

​Southampton's return to form is evidence that faith and loyalty to a manager can pay dividends, in a world where short-term fixes and scapegoats are the answer to almost every question.  

Source : 90min