This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Following Matt Crocker’s recent appointment as Southampton’s new Director of Football, The Telegraph revealed an interesting snippet of information within the announcement article regarding club owner Gao Jisheng’s financial restraints.
“Ralph Hasenhuttl will be limited in his January budget and will largely need to turn Southampton’s season around with his existing squad.”
Now, that seems problematic. The ‘existing squad’ is currently amongst the worst in the Premier League as the Saints occupy 17th position in England’s top-flight, having earned just 15 points from 16 games while also conceding a league-high 35 goals in that time.
So, surely if you were in charge and also aware that you can’t bring in an abundance of transfer reinforcements, you must ensure that you keep your existing squad’s spirits high, right?
Well, for some reason or another, Hasenhuttl hasn’t really been doing that with a few of his players.
The former RB Leipzig boss has publicly criticised as many as five of his Southampton players in Michael Obafemi, Angus Gunn, Alex McCarthy, Nathan Redmond and Yan Valery.
Hasenhuttl told the media that 19-year-old Obafemi ‘lacks professionalism’ while also saying that Gunn ‘has a lot of weaknesses’ back in May and that the glovesman ‘knows he could save’ Tanguy Ndombele’s effort that flew past him this season.
Also, another goalkeeper recently faced the Austrian’s harsh words when Hasenhuttl said that McCarthy could’ve done better for Newcastle’s late winner last time out – the criticism of his shot-stoppers is particularly strange, as they are his only two options in a position hugely reliant on confidence after Fraser Forster was loaned out.
Hasenhuttl also told the media that he felt Redmond ‘wasn’t brave enough’ against Watford recently and demanded more of the Englishman, while the Saints boss publicly revealed that academy graduate Valery was making a lot of mistakes in training.
Of course, constructive criticism where it’s due can often be effective, but seeing as Hasenhuttl seemingly can’t afford to purchase any new faces to help his existing options, he is being quite foolish in knocking so many of his players’ confidence in such an open manner.