Revamp Of Saints Coaching Set Up Long Overdue
Wednesday, 27th Apr 2022 10:45
Over the past few years I have often highlighted the lack of coaching experience on the Southampton bench to help and assist Ralph Hasenhuttl , now it seems that is about to change.
When Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived at St Mary's he arrived at a club that was struggling to balance the books due to a number of players on high wages who were either not getting into the first team or were out on loan with only a portion of their sizable wages being paid by the club they were out on loan with.
This created a log jam, Saints problem wasn't so much transfer fees, but the burden on the annual wage bill, this meant that we didn't have the money to make signings when needed until we managed to get those not contributing to the club off the wage bill.
But it wasn't just on the playing side that bringing the right personnel was not affordable, but also the coaching side, Hasenhuttl was able to bring in an assistant, initially Danny Rohl, but otherwise he had to accept those that the club themselves provided.
But I have long maintained that those coaches did not have the experience necessary to aid Hasenhuttl and the situation worsened when Danny Rohl left for Bayern Munich, he was replaced by Richard Kitzbichler, who although he had worked with Ralph before, was not a coach in the true sense of the word, but a more analytic type, he is often seen on the bench monitoring stats on his laptop.
Although he clearly plays a vital part in the coaching set up, he is not the type of man Ralph can talk tactics with during a game, someone to run things by and advice.
Nor are any of the other coaches, you rarely see Ralph in conversation with any of the other coaching staff during game, he cuts a lonely figure in the technical area and none of his coaching staff seem to consult with him.
As I said there is little or no experience on the bench, Kelvin Davis went almost overnight from being a club ambassador welcoming corporate guests to St Mary's, to being a first team coach.
David Watson, was a good goalkeeping coach for many years, but then he switched to being a specialist coach to being an outfield coach.
The third coach is Craig Fleming, whilst he had a long career in professional football, most notably with Oldham in the Premier League and then Norwich, when he joined Saints in 2015, his only coaching experience had been with Lowestoft Town where he had spent 7 years guiding them to the Conference South.
At St Mary's he joined the U18 academy set up where he spent 3 years before moving up to the U23's in 2018, he didn't spend long there with Mark Hughes being sacked and the coaching staff in disarray after 3 managers in a little over 18 months, he found himself in the first team set up.
So over the past three years the general coaching staff is not bristling with coaching experience, but I suspect that this is more to due with the financial situation over that period of time more than anything else.
It lacks not only experience but variety and aside from the goalkeeping coach, it appears that there are no specialist coaches and we pay the price for that at the back.
I cannot imagine that the players themselves are impressed with the coaching set up, players respect those that have been there and done it in the profession, with respect to our coaching staff, I don't think that they can command that respect, yes they will have picked up experience over the last three years, but none of them have gained experience at Premier League level at other clubs and gained knowledge.
But that according to some reports in the media is about to change, the arrival of Sport Republic aligned with several big salaries coming off the wage bill freeing up money to allow other areas to be financed.
This could well be a big factor in improving our squad, players need coaches in specialist positions, we sign young players but do not provide specialist coaching assistance to help them learn.
Now it seems that could change and Ralph Hasenhuttl had this to say when asked about the situation.
“Sure, we have also spoken about these opportunities we have,” Hasenhuttl told the Daily Echo.
“We are always open minded about going new ways and definitely everything that makes us better, everything that makes us more competitive, we will think about it – this is for sure.”
“We have always our eyes open and thinking about what we can change in the future but I think it is not the day to speak about it,” he added, though.
“We have still a few games to go, but you can be sure that in the background we are always planning for the next season.”
Ralph has to be guarded about what he says, after all he has worked alongside these guys for 3 1/2 years, but both he and Sport Republic surely know the situation is not ideal.
But Davis, Watson & Forrest have all been at the club a long time now, they are loyal servants and do not deserve to be just cast aside, they have to be managed into other roles, perhaps still with the first team squad, but in different roles.
Some have been critical of Ralph Hasenhuttl, but I would contest that he has done a good job in difficult circumstances, a main criticism would be that he makes some strange selection decisions, to a degree i would agree with that, but it is clear that he has little help from his coaching staff and hopefully if we change that, then things will start to improve.
Photo: Action Images
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