Southampton are reportedly set to bring Ralph Hasenhuttl to St Mary’s following the departure of Mark Hughes on Monday morning, and it’s fair to say that life under the Austrian will be very different.
The Welshman used a number of different formations during his 14 Premier League matches this season before he was sacked following the 2-2 draw with Manchester United at St Mary’s on Saturday, and it was often difficult to tell what his plan, identity or style of play really is.
The same certainly can’t be said of Hasenhuttl, who has a distinctive way of playing that helped him to great success at former clubs FC Ingolstadt and RB Leipzig.
The 51-year-old became renowned for playing an attacking, energetic, high-intensity pressing game during his tenure with the two German clubs.
The Austrian coach wants his team to show big levels of fitness and that must come from the front, meaning the two strikers in his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation will be expected to run into the channels to stretch sides and put opposition defenders under pressure.
It is a similar style to the one Mauricio Pochettino looked to integrate when he first arrived at St Mary’s in 2013, and it could have big consequences for some current players.
In short, the 31-year-old won’t be able to believe his luck.
Despite only scoring 27 goals – 13 of which came in one season – in 162 appearances in all competitions for Southampton since signing for them in 2014, the 5ft 11in Republic of Ireland international may have hit the jackpot with Hasenhuttl.
Most Saints fans will no longer want the striker anywhere near the starting XI because of his dire goalscoring record – he has three in his previous 56 outings for the south coast outfit – but his style of play should suit the Austrian manager down to a tee.
Long is willing to press, chase and harry defenders, and Hasenhuttl may feel that he is the ideal strike partner for Danny Ings when he recovers from his ankle injury.
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