Hasenhuttl: I will blow the guys’ minds
Manager aims to bring new intensity to Saints Austrian vows to deliver ‘passionate football’
Hasenhuttl, the new Southampton manager, says his training methods will be “mind-blowing” for the players, as he looks to make his mark on the Premier League.
The Austrian yesterday faced the press for the first time since his appointment on Wednesday, and gave a glimpse of the character that propelled his RB Leipzig team to Champions League football after just one season in the Bundesliga.
Hasenhuttl, 51, said implementing his intense training approach and mindset immediately at Southampton was how he intended to improve results.
“The main goal at the moment is not to overload them, but the next two weeks we have about six training sessions, and there we have a lot of time to work with their tactical basics, but also with their mind.
“We will have a lot of video sessions and it will get mind-blowing for the guys. The training sessions are forcing you to be really concentrated and therefore I want them to discuss it, for them to come to me. It is all about input, about mindset. There will be no rest in the next weeks, I can guarantee you.”
Hasenhuttl himself has been resting – or “recharging his batteries” – for six months since leaving Leipzig after two seasons. But he tired of walks in the mountains, and was ready to return to the fast lane.
Though he is the first Austrian to take a top managerial role in England’s top flight, Hasenhuttl spent a few weeks training in the Premier League as a player; with Bolton as a teenager and with Glenn Hoddle’s Chelsea in the 1990s. He lacked the physicality and talent required to make either team, but thinks this moulded his coaching methods.
“It was clear I was missing a lot for that level. I had not so much talent. I was a striker who could score, but running was not my main goal. Maybe it’s why, as coach, I force them to run a lot,” he laughed.
Hasenhuttl also indicated he had no intention of playing it safe at Southampton, saying he would like to stick to his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation, with the main goal to “try to press very early”. This positive style of play is one reason he has been dubbed the “Klopp of the Alps” – and it is a comparison he accepts.
“[Jurgen Klopp] has a very proactive way to play and he set marks in Germany with his kind of football,” he said. “That influenced my style.”
The pair’s close relationship, which grew when completing their coaching badges together, shone through when Hasenhuttl addressed questions on the Liverpool manager. He even joked that his friend’s German had suffered from being in England so long, as Klopp had mistranslated the meaning of his name to “rabbit” during a press conference on Monday, when in fact it means “small rabbit hut”. Despite their obvious friendship, Hasenhuttl said he wanted to make his own way in the league.
“I don’t like [being compared to Klopp] so much, I want to be my own character,” he said. “I want to put my footsteps in the snow here. This step is not the easiest one, but I never want easy in my life. I am always challenging myself.”
Southampton sit 18th after accruing just one win and nine points under Mark Hughes from their first 14 games this campaign. Hasenhuttl is the club’s fourth manager in three seasons, but insisted he is not afraid of the prospect. He was at Wembley for the 3-1 defeat by Tottenham in midweek, and hinted at the serious changes needed in the team’s attitude, gaining little encouragement from a Saints goal in the closing stages. “It is easy when you don’t have to lose anything anymore.”
This no-nonsense response, alongside his animated personality could be the combination needed to inject some spark into Southampton’s results – but a spark regardless is mostly what he is aiming to bring.
“You can expect a very passionate kind of football, with 11 characters on the field who know exactly what to do,” Hasenhuttl said. “When you see us playing in the summer it will be different than when you see the team now. I can’t guarantee you how many results we will earn for that – if you want guarantees, buy a washing machine. In football, there are no guarantees. I hope it is enough to stay in this division.”
Klopp of the Alps: Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl likes to play a similar style to that of the Liverpool coach