In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, former England international Rob Lee has claimed Saints chairman Jisheng Gao and a missed opportunity at Southampton.
Lee is clearly impressed with the job that Ralph Hasenhuttl has done with the South Coast club in recent seasons and suggests that the club should be backing the Austrian in the transfer market, to help them push on even further.
Southampton appointed the 53-year-old in December 2018, and he has helped transform the Saints from potential relegation candidates into European hopefuls this season, as they currently sit fifth in the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Here’s what Lee had to say about Hasenhuttl when speaking exclusively to FFC…
“The thing it depends on is the owner. If you were a Southampton fan or a football fan, and you saw him long term at Southampton, then you have to do that [back him in the transfer window], because he’s done an unbelievable job.
“They got smashed 9-0 [just over] a year ago, and everyone thought he was going to be sacked. They are good to watch, they score goals, and I think he’s got some awesome players.
“Ward-Prowse has come on leaps and bounds. If you look at the players they’ve sold over the last 10 years, it’s been unbelievable.
“They’re still competing and they’re competing very well this year. They’re not going to be anywhere near the bottom. If anybody is playing against Southampton now, they know that they’re in for a game, they know that they could beat them.
“Again, talking about owners, if the owners think ‘I’m fed up of this’, then he’s not going to really invest money for him, so it depends on who runs the club.”
Lee seems to credit Gao for not rushing into a decision over Hasenhuttl when the Saints were thrashed by Leicester City last year, in a result that saw them drop into the relegation zone.
However, he also suggests that the Austrian manager should be backed financially in the upcoming transfer window as if he is allowed to strengthen his squad, there is no telling where this Southampton side could end up.
Considering Hasenhuttl has been touted as a potential replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, Gao and the other members of the Southampton board should definitely consider backing the 53-year-old in the winter transfer window, as that could prove to be a huge factor in whether or not he wants to stay should another side come knocking.