Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 10 April 2020

2019/20 Premier League preview - Southampton: Ralph Hasenhuttl can guide club to mid-table finish

Richard Jolly runs the rule over Southampton ahead of the new season, including key player, new signing to watch and predicted league finish

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl during the pre-season friendly match at Deepdale, Preston. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Preston. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl during the pre-season friendly match at Deepdale, Preston. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Preston. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications

Ralph Hasenhuttl joined a club with a solitary league win all season and recorded eight as he took 30 points from 23 games. It poses the question of what a transformative figure can do with a pre-season to get players fit enough for his brand of football and with his signings.

__________________________

Who finishes where in 2019-20?

__________________________

Winger Moussa Djenepo and striker Che Adams should add more in the final third while Hasenhuttl’s ability to improve players and his faith in youth suggest a mid-table finish should be feasible. But Saints are lumbered with too much deadwood and Hasenhuttl would have wanted a greater clearout to allow him to make more signings.

Key player: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

A player who caught Pep Guardiola’s eye when he first went to Bayern Munich had an underwhelming first two years at Southampton. But last year, granted the captaincy, he emerged as a forceful figure. Hasenhuttl’s willingness to sell Mario Lemina is a sign of Hojbjerg’s excellence.

Signing to watch: Che Adams

A £15 million (Dh68.2m) fee looks cheap for a forceful 23-year-old who scored 22 times last season. However, that was the first time Adams topped 12 and came in Birmingham City’s 4-4-2 formation. He should suit Hasenhuttl’s pressing game but may have to play alone up front, and in a different system.

_________________

The best summer transfers

_________________

Talking point: Can Hasenhuttl sort out the defence?

In theory, it should be a strength. Jannik Vestergaard and Wesley Hoedt were big-money arrivals at centre-back in the last two summers. Cedric Soares won Euro 2016. But both Soares and Hoedt were loaned out last season and, if Hasenhuttl, who preferred younger alternatives, would rather be rid of both, no reinforcements have arrived.

Hasenhuttl often looked for safety in numbers by playing three central defenders but only Fulham and Huddersfield Town kept fewer clean sheets last season which, like a shortage of home wins, meant Saints had to do things the hard way.

Prediction: 11th

Updated: August 2, 2019 03:33 PM

SHARE

SHARE

Most Popular