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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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Saintaxidriver added 11:29 - Feb 23
I have been one to doubt his ability particularly in regard to picking players in strange positions, tactics and substitutions and last season and the start of this along with the first team, the age group teams fared poorly. But maybe a few factors have turned this around and maybe it has taken time to get the practices he preaches working well. With Ralph as our manager the one thing you can be sure of is that it is never boring and for that I love him.

HythePeer added 11:50 - Feb 23
I think that managers who are "learning by their mistakes" should be on student wages and under the supervision of a qualified manager. I don't expect my 55 year old dentist to be learning from his mistakes on my teeth.

Colburn added 12:51 - Feb 23
Good article Nick! Fair and balanced. The growth of our squad, team and individuals since those very average first 7 games of the season has been noticeable to every football fan and pundit in the country. This must be credited to Ralph and the work he put in with the restructuring.
I can't agree with you HythePeer, I'm sure all dentists make mistakes, but they may be logistical errors rather than ones which create pain or blood.. How can you become wiser if you're life is error free..? We should just be thankful that Ralph has taken on board the things he has learnt from his mistakes and improved everything, rather than continually revisiting his learning curve. Yes I was one who thought time for a change after the first 7 games, mainly because some managers are so stubborn, they don't change, and I thought this was becoming the case with Ralph. Instead, he has turned not just the team around, but the whole club. If we keep the same squad next year, the sky is the limit with what he has achieved of late - the development of all fringe players and youth.. I'm actually now embarrassed for wanting him out in September.. Guardiola knows what Ralph has and is achieving, and he's not the daftest man in football, is he?

lemmsy added 15:13 - Feb 23
Surely football or sport are completely different from other walks of life because there are so many variables.To say a manager shouldn’t make a mistake is rather misguided.If that was the case every game would be a stalemate.
Sport is human / emotional therefore adapting to situations & learning from mistakes leads to success!

underweststand added 06:45 - Feb 24
Elyounoussi wasn't the only player to join around then and struggle to get established.
After Koeman, successive managers came and went, and all had different playing styles -
and brought in players who were totally unprepared for life in the Prem.
After we squandered the profit from the VvD deal, we were stuck with a group of highly-overpaid misfits. To blame (any manager) for bad results takes no account that the some players at his disposal just aren't up to playing in " the best league in the World ".

Saints' record signings ( Vestergaard? / Carillo? ) didn't cost much more than £20 million, whereas many Prem. sides (e.g. Everton/ Villa) have spent much more but today are still looking over their shoulders at the drop zone. The " Big Six " money clubs think nothing of spending £100 million a year - and more. In comparison, Saints have survived whilst surviving on very limited financial reserves.¨

A lifetimes work experience has shown me that few people go to work without making
the occasional mistake, but the most important lesson is that we learn from such errors.
The more impatient fans go for a knee-jerk reaction and want a player / manager sacked before they've got to grips with their task. Very few footballers have had education at College / Uni. and the challenges are compounded as we don't play the same opposition every week. Illness / injury / loss of form also complicate issues.
An old phrase "..the person who never made a mistake - never made anything "...readily comes to mind. The most important lessons come in learning from your mistakes, and to avoid repeating them in the future.
Nick's original comment (regarding Mo. E 's first sojourn at SMS) highlight the fact that many new players are often forced into playing in unfamiliar roles / formations, and Mo arrived at a time when the team was having.... a bad time.
Livramento has taken time to adapt to his unfamiliar full-back role, whilst KWP has changed to LB but suddenly looks like the best left winger we've had in ages. Can he become the the new Tadic?. Mo E. has found a role that seems to fit him well.

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