Aston Villa are considering a move to appoint Ralph Hasenhuttl as Dean Smith’s successor at Villa Park.
That’s according to a report by The Telegraph, who claimed that the Southampton manager is one of Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens’ top targets to replace Smith in the Villa dugout, with the club’s owners hoping to make a swift appointment following the 50-year-old’s sacking on Sunday.
The report goes on to state that, while the Saints boss is believed to have a strong rapport with his players on the South Coast, the Austrian could nevertheless be tempted by Villa’s advances, largely a result of the club’s much greater resources than his current side.
Considering the rather remarkable job Hasenhuttl has done over his near three-year spell at Southampton, it is easy to see why NSWE have placed the 54-year-old towards the top of their shortlist.
Indeed, after taking over from Mark Hughes back in December of 2018, the former RB Leipzig manager led a side languishing down in 18th place upon his arrival to a 16th place finish, picking up a highly impressive 30 points from his 23 Premier League fixtures during his debut campaign.
The following season, despite losing one of the club’s prized assets in the shape of Matt Targett, a number of astute summer signings – including the likes of Danny Ings, Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo – helped Hasenhuttl to secure an 11th place finish in the league, with Saints picking up a very respectable 52 points in 2019/20.
And, despite again losing a highly influential player in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the summer of 2020, the Austrian manager once again comfortably guided Saints to safety, winning 12, drawing seven and losing 19 games on the way to a 15th place finish in the top flight.
As such, considering the fact that, with Villa sitting just two points above the relegation zone at present, survival should very much be the first objective for the club’s new manager, Hasenhuttl would appear to be an extremely intelligent appointment for the club, as the 54-year-old has proven with Saints he is more than capable of keeping a team in the league.
Furthermore, Hasenhuttl’s overall transfer business on the South Coast has also been incredibly impressive, something that, with the larger budget of Villa, could help fire the club back into the top half of the Premier League table in the long run.
So, while another of the club’s reported targets, Steven Gerrard, is undoubtedly an exciting up and coming manager in the game having won the Scottish Premiership crown with Rangers in 2020/21, it is the man who Pep Guardiola dubbed an “exceptional” coach who looks to be a dream successor to Smith.
Hasenhuttl would bring with him a wealth of Premier League experience that the Gers boss simply cannot match.