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Size of task facing Hasenhuttl laid bare in defeat at Cardiff

UK Sport | Published:

The former Austria striker succeeded the sacked Mark Hughes at Southampton this week.

Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge of his first game as Southampton manager in the crunch basement battle at Cardiff.

The former RB Leipzig boss saw his side lose 1-0 and the Saints drop one place to 19th, three points from safety.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at how the Austrian coped on his Premier League bow.

Selection

Hasenhuttl sprang a huge surprise by making six changes after the Saints’ battling midweek display against Tottenham. Although Southampton lost that Wembley clash 3-1, Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made several fine saves to deny them any reward. Out went Cedric Soares, Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida, with Yan Valery, Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard coming into a reshaped defence. Oriol Romeu, Mario Lemina and Charlie Austin were also recalled as Steve Davis, James Ward-Prowse and Manolo Gabbiadini missed out.

Tactics

Hasenhuttl set up with Saints in a 4-1-2-2-1 formation, with a new-look back four protected by Romeu. The Spaniard had dropped off the radar in Mark Hughes’ final few weeks in charge and was making his first start since the end of October. Skipper Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Mario Lemina were deployed in front of Romeu, with Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond offering attacking support to lone striker Charlie Austin. Rookie right-back Valery had a tough time and was replaced at half-time.

On the touchline

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As well as being the Premier League’s newest manager, Hasenhuttl can also lay claim to being one of the tallest. The former Austria striker is well over six-foot tall and, dressed in a black tracksuit, he cut an imposing figure in the technical area. Hasenhuttl never left that area, but he was a restrained figure apart from the odd occasion when a borderline decision went against the Saints.

Overall

It was no surprise that the Saints looked a disjointed unit in the first period, given that Hasenhuttl had made so many changes. Southampton improved after the break and looked the better side until Cardiff opened the scoring. Yet again it was another of the defensive clangers which have undermined their season – and Hasenhuttl knows that stopping these mistakes is Southampton’s priority. He clearly has a big job on his hands.

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