He has twice saved clubs from relegation and his team’s style of play is likely to put a smile back on supporters’ faces
It’s the most wonderful time of year, except if you’re a Southampton fan.
Saints fans have had a pretty dismal few months, which has culminated in Mark Hughes losing his job as manager and them in the Premier League’s relegation zone.
However, there is a new man in charge and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s appointment should give supporters reason to cheer during the Christmas period.
Twice he has taken over during a season and led teams to safety: first at Aalen in the German third division in January 2011, and then with Ingolstadt, who were bottom of the Bundesliga 2 when he was appointed in October 2013.
Southampton say his principals on how football should be played are ones likely to strike a chord with fans.
After all, you don’t get a nickname like the “Klopp of the Alps” for nothing, do you?
The Austrian formed a close bond with Liverpool’s manager when the pair were on the same coaching course.
[Klopp and I] did our coaching badges together and we know each other very well,” Hasenhuttl told bundesliga.com in May.
“I think we appreciate a similar philosophy on football – we want to play a high tempo game, we want our guys to sprint around, press well and these are elements which make the game livelier and varied and get people excited.”
Hasenhuttl coaching career
2007-2010: SpVgg Unterhaching
2011-2013: VfR Aalen
2016-2018: RB Leipzig
As a player, his biggest clubs were Austria Wien and Salzburg, while the striker also played eight times for Austria.
It’s as a coach, though, where he has had the biggest impact and Hasenhuttl’s career began in the third tier of German football in 2007 with SpVgg Unterhaching, but gained attention for his time at RB Leipzig.
The 2016/17 season, his first season in charge, saw the newly-promoted side finish second in the Bundesliga, a place in the Champions League and eventually the Europa League quarter-finals.
Along the way, they memorably knocked Maurizio Sarri’s high flying Napoli out.
“I think no matter where I’ve worked, in Aalen or Ingolstadt or [Leipzig], the stadiums have always been full as a result of how we played,” he once explained.
“It’s successful, attractive and represents a particular way of life and that’s down to our philosophy. There’s a saying: ‘either you give the people what they want to see or one of you looks for a new stadium’. I agree with that 100 per cent.”
He even admitted he is as animated as the Liverpool manager. “I don’t know, at times I run a bit too far onto the pitch,” he added.
“But that’s only in exceptional circumstances, and Jurgen does it too when a goal is scored!”
Klopp’s over-exuberant celebration against Everton landed him with an £8,000 fine, but Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger probably won’t mind, though, considering it’s likely to mean progress.