The new era under Ralph Hasenhuttl got underway on Saturday afternoon as Southampton suffered a 1-0 defeat away at Cardiff City.
Time was at a premium for Hassenhutl in his preparation for his bow as Southampton manager, but not even the hype surrounding his appointment could inspire the players to record a priceless victory over their fellow relegation rival.
However, in the midst of a crushing defeat, it’s important that the Saints faithful read between the lines and appreciate that they are well placed to move clear of a relegation scrap this season.
That opinion is based on Matt Targett’s recent revelation on Hasenhuttl’s impact since arriving at the club last week, as per Sky Sports.
The 23-year-old full-back has struggled to impress supporters this season, but he managed to keep his place in the first-team this weekend despite a lacklustre performance in Southampton’s midweek defeat against Tottenham Hotspur.
Speaking in the aftermath of defeat, Targett identified some key changes which the Austrian manager has made since being appointed last week.
“You can see straight away that he is going to ask a lot from each position.
“When I say intense I mean lots of sprints – much more than we have been doing. Lots of pressing and getting in faces.
“He likes to get involved and will tell you if you are doing it wrong. If you are, then you are out. Simple as that.”
That Hasenhuttl has immediately focused on improving the fitness of the team is a positive indicator of what’s to come on the south coast. David Moyes adopted a similar approach when he took over from Slaven Bilic at West Ham, and his focus on improving the physical aspect of the squad dragged the Hammers away from a perilous situation.
And Targett also went on to suggest that Hasnhuttl is the type of manager who hones in on the finer details of individual and team performance, which will undoubtedly enable Southampton to establish a recognisable identity.
“There were a lot of details in his meetings. Longer meetings than previously. More detailed, which is good.
Towards the end of Hughes’ stewardship, Southampton became nothing more than a collection of disjointed individuals, striving to achieve results with no cohesive tactical direction.
But under Hasenhuttl there is every chance that the themes which have consistently cropped up and plagued the club’s development since the beginning of last season will finally become a thing of the past.
Either way, it’s clear from Targett’s admission that Hasenhuttl’s attention to detail and emphasis on fitness offer a marked improvement on Hughes, and that can only be a positive indicator for the future under his leadership.
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