There is perhaps no Premier League manager whose reputation has been enhanced throughout the course of 2020/21 than Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhüttl. Despite a relatively thin squad – one that was battling relegation at the time of his appointment in December 2018 – and, by the standards of English football, a relatively small budget, he has transformed their prospects to the extent they are competing with the established so-called big six.
That that is the case is largely because of his nurturing of, among others, promising talents like James Ward-Prowse and Danny Ings, whose careers had stalled, his ruthlessness in selling those he considered expendable, and his ability to organise them and oversee so effective a press. “Southampton have an exceptional manager,” Pep Guardiola recently said. “I know him a little bit from my time in Germany. (Red Bull) Leipzig played in a specific style. No surprise in their success.”