Since Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge at Southampton, they’ve won three league games. To put that into context, that’s 300% more wins than we managed in the 16 league games under Hughes, this season. 300%! We stopped Arsenal’s unbeaten run and won away from home against Huddersfield. After going 1-0 up at home to West Ham, it looked like the unthinkable was going to happen – three league wins on the spin. Then, the thinkable happened and we lost 1-2, but still, there were many positives and the football looked much better – the lads were just shattered. Then, if we weren’t tired enough, we hosted Man City. Tough fixture yes, but a confidence knocker? No. We managed to score and took that confidence to keep a clean sheet away at Stamford Bridge.
I spoke a lot in my last article about the game against Leicester, very early in the season. Throwing away a 1-0 win and leaving our own ground with nothing (a little like against West Ham, but I can justify it more following two wins). Revenge was definitely sweet, after managing to hold the 0-2 lead at the King Power and coming away with three points; Valery picked up a red card in the first half, making the win even more impressive.
We’ve been known for losing games from winning positions. It didn’t even matter if we were two goals up (at home to Brighton and Manchester United), we just couldn’t see out the match. But that’s changed. We’re quicker. We’re running more. We’re looking forward and competing for every ball. The pressing has been exceptional: hence the tiredness. Overall, the team look like a team wanting to play for the badge and the manager.
We’ve had goals from Ings (3), Austin (1), Redmond (2), Obafemi (1), Hojbjerg (1), Ward-Prowse (1) and Shane Long (1)… yes, really. Shane Long’s last four goals have come under four different Southampton managers. Quite the stat. Importantly, Ralph can see something in Long that the previous managers couldn’t. If the new manager can get the best from Long, then surely that improves the competitive nature of Ings and Austin. Surely, it promotes an atmosphere where players are fighting for their positions.
There was some slight confusion about who the #1 keeper would be, and it’s an area I’d avoid recruiting for in FPL. Despite having McCarthy myself, I wouldn’t buy him now until Hasenhuttl settles on his man between the sticks. Therefore, options that I would consider as we move forward in the season are: Redmond (£5.2m, 1.3% TSB), Hojbjerg (£4.4m, 2.7% TSB – suspended currently) & Danny Ings (£5.5m, 5.5% TSB – injured currently). I’d avoid our defensive players as I don’t think they are capable of withstanding pressure from teams above us in the table, but offensively, we’re looking much more exciting.