Sunday 20 October 2019

Drinks are on Hasenhuttl as Southampton seek home comforts

Struggling Saints host in-form Arsenal on Sunday.

Ralph Hasenhuttl is preparing for his first game at St Mary’s (Mark Kerton/PA)
Ralph Hasenhuttl is preparing for his first game at St Mary’s (Mark Kerton/PA)

By Ed Elliot, Press Association Sport

Ralph Hasenhuttl hopes Southampton supporters are able to toast a rare home victory after supplying them with free beer tokens.

New Saints boss Hasenhuttl takes charge of his first game at St Mary’s on Sunday with the aim of bringing fans “in our boat to row with us”.

The struggling south-coast club have managed just one Premier League victory on home soil during the past 12 months and are second bottom of the division.

Austrian Hasenhuttl wants to quickly rectify the slump and has sent drinks vouchers to all season ticket holders ahead of the visit of Arsenal in a bid to lift spirits.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a guy who always brings everyone in our boat to row with us,” said Hasenhuttl, who replaced the sacked Mark Hughes on December 5.

“It’s very important to have a good relationship. I talked a lot of times about that you can feel every day that Southampton FC is a very, very important part of everybody’s life here in this area.

“Everyone wants to keep this club in this division so for us it’s a big chance to help them get lucky again and all we want to do is to make it possible that we have fantastic moments again and emotional moments.

“You never know, maybe on Sunday comes the first since a long time in St Mary’s Stadium.

“They can celebrate when ever they want (with the free drinks), and if they can celebrate a win on Sunday they should do it and I’m the first to congratulate them.”

Southampton’s last league victory in front of their own fans came against south-coast rivals Bournemouth in late April during the early days of Hughes’ short tenure.

Their previous top-flight St Mary’s success was in November 2017 when Everton, under the the caretaker management of David Unsworth, were beaten by a Saints team led by Mauricio Pellegrino.

Former Red Bull Leipzig coach Hasenhuttl, whose opening match ended in defeat at Cardiff, admits the club owes its fans.

“You have to build up your credit,” he added.

“It’s like an account, if you always take money off sometimes it’s off (empty), now we have to put money on the account.

“We try to invest something and more, show them that we are working harder and put more in games, like on Sunday against Arsenal.”

Hasenhuttl has wasted little time stamping his authority on his squad, cancelling a scheduled day off on Monday in order to implement his methods.

Injured players have not escaped the 51-year-old’s meticulous planning, with left-back Ryan Bertrand sent training videos to watch during his recovery from a back operation which will keep him sidelined for around a fortnight.

“It went well and I wrote to him yesterday wishing him all the best,” said Hasenhuttl.

“We sent him all the training session videos that we made this week so that he can imagine what will change now in his position or what we are asking from (him) in the future.”

Right-back Cedric Soares (calf) and strikers Danny Ings (hamstring) and Shane Long (ankle) are available to face the Gunners, but defenders Bertrand and Jack Stephens (knee) will be absent.

PA Media

The Left Wing - RWC Daily: End of an era as Ireland say sayonara to World Cup

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport