Ralph Hasenhuttl has rejected his nickname ‘The Klopp of The Alps’, insisting he will build his own “character” at Southampton.
New Saints boss Hasenhuttl had shrugged off comparisons with his friend and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and prioritised dragging his new club out of the Premier League relegation zone.
Former Austria striker Hasenhuttl has become Saints’ fourth permanent manager in less than 18 months, after Mark Hughes was sacked on Monday.
The 51-year-old will oversee just one training session before Saturday’s crunch league clash at Cardiff, and called on his squad to push quickly up the table.
The engaging Hasenhuttl, who joked that his surname translates into English as ‘rabbit hutch’, fired a word of warning that he will ship out any players not ready for hard work.
Asked about his nickname and comparisons with Liverpool boss Klopp, Hasenhuttl replied: “I have heard about it. I don’t like it so much; I want to be my own character.
“We know each other and we were sat our FIFA pro-licence tests together.
“I was always a friend of his from football. He has a very proactive way of playing, and made a big mark in Germany. That kind of football really influenced my style.
“If I could do similar it would be fantastic for me, but that is too far away. We have other targets, goals and problems.
“The first target is to move as quickly as you can out of this relegation zone.”
The former RB Leipzig boss admitted he will drive the Southampton squad hard, vowing to produce at the bare minimum a team that grafts for the supporters.
Former Wales striker Hughes was sacked after just eight months at the helm on Monday, with Saints now winning just once in 15 league matches this term.
“You can expect a very passionate kind of football with 11 characters on the field who know exactly what to do, what they have to show the crowd,” said Hasenhuttl.
“I know there are no guarantees of winning and the only thing we have is to work on chances. If you want guarantees buy a washing machine.
“If we win the fans will follow us and appreciate what we do on the pitch and if this relationship works I don’t know the limits for us.
“I want to bring the players to their limits. If they like to go this way with us they are invited.
“When they follow it will be an intensive, hard-working way. If someone says it is too much running or work they will fall very quickly beside us.”
Asked how he will handle becoming Austria’s first Premier League manager, he continued: “It means a lot of pressure on me, because if I do badly the gap is closed for everyone else, so I should do it well!
“But I’m not afraid of anything. I’m proud but this is only the beginning.
“It’s nice to come here with people talking about you, but it’s better when you leave and people are still talking about you.”
Hasenhuttl will be supported at Southampton by existing first-team assistant coach Kelvin Davis, who was in charge of the team against Tottenham, as well as head of goalkeeping Dave Watson and head of sports science Alek Gross.