Hasenhuttl Highlights Saints Playbook In Success Of Youngsters And An Older Face Or Two
Wednesday, 23rd Feb 2022 10:40
During the first lockdown in the summer of 2020 Ralph Hasenhuttl didn't sit back and watch Tipping Point or The Chase, OK he might have, why should he have been different from the rest of the Country, but he also sat down and wrote down his strategy for the whole club.
Famously Ralph Hasenhuttl spent the first lockdown in 2020, writing what became known as the Southampton Playbook, this was a complete overhaul and the building of a strategy right through the club from the academy to the first team that would hopefully see the club through from that time forward.
It laid down the culture of the club and the way things should be done as well as how he wanted his teams and players to play.
It not only helps those already at the club, but new signings as well, in that in tells them how things are going to be and helps them adapt to their new environment.
It has not been an easy time since then and like everything Hasenhuttl has also had to learn from his mistakes, not least allowing players out on loan last season and then finding that his squad was devasted by injury and suspension at times.
This season he has not made the same mistake and therefore players like Moi Elyounoussi, Yan Valery & Shane Long who were on the fringes of the squad have stayed at St Mary's this year rather than go out on loan.
All three have played a part this season, on Saturday Shane Long highlighted his role now at the club as the "closer" in the team whereby he comes on late in games when it is tight to close out the game and make sure we keep points rather than throw them away in the last minutes of a game as we have been prone to do.
It has take some fans time to realise the benefit's of Long's role in the side, earlier in the season some where questioning why Long came on for the likes of Armando Broja late on, but now they understand.
Another beneficiary is Mohammed Elyounoussi who after a less than average first season at the club has spent the last two years on loan at Celtic and looked set for a third year until the manager decided he would be better in our squad than elsewhere.
The Norwegian has blossomed this season, a hat trick against Newport County looked good on paper, but had to be put in the context of an 8-0 win against a side who were poor, but his first Premier League goal was only days away and he has added to that tally twice since, with goals in 3-2 wins at both West Ham & Spurs, all of his goals have been worth points, 5 in total and that has made a big difference.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has spoken about the benefits of his playbook system both to players already at the club, new signings and indeed those like Elyounoussi who have spent time out on loan.
The club that Elyounoussi returned to last summer was far different to the one he left in the summer of 2019 and the work that Ralph did in the summer of 2020 was a big part of that.
Speaking to the Daily Echo the Austrian had this to say:
“We had also developed our game since he left. I think it was important for him to see on what level we are now and what we are demanding on this position,"
“Therefore our playbook was helpful and we definitely used this for every new player when he was coming in – to bring him to the same knowledge like the others are.
“But in the end, it’s up to him to adapt to the intense game, the more energetic way of playing football, like we try to do it.
“He has all the basics, all the tools you need to have – the result is he played a good season so far. "
Ralph is right, watching Elyounoussi in his first season showed that he had all the attributes, but he was not applying them in a way that was fitting in with the way the team played.
It wasn't just that, in fairness he just couldn't catch a break, nothing was coming off for him and with the emergence of other new signings, he was struggling to get in the side.
Now he is a key member of the squad and Ralph has learned that it is a squad game, in the past he seemed to like to have a core 18-20 professionals and then give youth a chance, now the number of experienced professionals is higher and we are reaping the benefits.
Yes we have to get a balance right and make sure youth can burst through, but this season we can call on experience when we are hit by illness & injury and not have to rely on 18 year olds.
Photo: Action Images
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