By Matthew Kirby
Last Updated: 22nd July 2019
Ralph Hasenhüttl dragged Southampton away from a perilous position following his arrival on the south coast and he is looking to bring a bright new dawn to the St Mary’s club.
Having harboured lofty ambitions, Southampton slipped back into the pack under Mark Hughes and were 18th with just one win from their opening 14 matches when he was axed.
Hasenhüttl steadied the ship up and secured the Saints place at the top table for another season. However, the pressure will be on the Austrian to deliver better results than his two predecessors.
There has already been signs of change at St Mary’s with new faces arriving and some surprise omissions from the club’s training camp, which shows the manager knows what he wants, and who from.
Hasenhüttl has been making bold decisions ahead of the new season and they started with the 26-player group that headed to Austria for a pre-season training programme.
There were some shock omissions, including Mario Lemina. It is now looking like a move to Old Trafford is on the horizon after Manchester United reportedly enquired about the availability of the 25-year-old.
Another man likely to be searching for another club is Charlie Austin. He only made 11 league starts last season and looks set to leave. Sheffield United are 4/7 for his signature and his experience could prove beneficial to the Premier League new boys.
One player that has already departed is Matt Targett. He’s moved to Aston Villa, while that may not be the end of the cull with the Saints reportedly open to offers for goalkeepers Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster.
Business done early
The cash has already been splashed. Che Adams has joined from Birmingham after his 22 goals in the Championship last season put him on the radar of a number of top-flight clubs. With a reported fee of £15 million spent on him, Hassenhüttl has also turned the Danny Ings deal permanent.
That’s a further £20 million forked out on the 26-year-old, who made an immediate impact by netting three goals in his first five games for the club. However, it might prove risky business given the fee involved and his chequered injury record.
With two forwards brought in, you need someone to create the chances for them and Hasenhüttl believes Moussa Djenepo is that man.
He moves from Standard Liège, where he scored 12 times last season, and the inverted winger doesn’t lack pace. He is likely to have many defenders worried when he has the ball at his feet.
That might not be the end of the incomings in forward positions with Spezia striker David Okereke linked with a move, while the Saints are also rumoured to be eyeing up Bristol City defender Adam Webster in what could be another big money move.
Hasenhüttl seemed to energise the Saints, and with the early done deals, there are signs we could see a different Southampton in the upcoming campaign – they’re 5/2 to finish in the top half.