View from the Kingsland: Thanks and Farewell

View from the Kingsland: Thanks and Farewell

by Nick Mabey.

After what feels like months of speculation Ralph Hasenhuttl is no longer manager of Southampton FC. Tuesday 7th November saw him sacked with immediate effect following a run of results in 2022 that, spread over a season, would have seen Southampton relegated.  It’s a cut-throat business – managers are either sacked or headhunted and mostly the former – and Ralph had outlasted many of his peers with a near four-year tenure.  

Having survived two record 9-0 defeats and an earlier long sequence of poor results, Hasenhuttl might have felt he was immune from the chop, but recently there has been a sort of tired resignation and even this Ralph advocate had started to feel like he had run out of road. It is with a heavy heart that I raise my hands and concede that this was probably the right decision at roughly the right time.  With an unusual mid-season break for the World Cup only two matches away, the club has time to bed in a replacement.

So how will history judge Ralph’s tenure?  The numbers first.  He managed Saints for 157 games, more than any other manager since Chris Nicholl over thirty years ago.  27 managers followed Nicholl in and out of the hot seat before Hasenhuttl arrived, which is a pretty sad indictment of the way the club was run for most of that time.  Most of those people lasted very little time, indeed only five managed us for more than 100 appearances. 

In terms of success, Ralph’s win ratio of 34.1% is almost identical to Chris Nicholl’s.  Of the others who’ve managed Saints for over 40 games while we were in the Premier League, he has a better ratio than Branfoot, Ball, Merrington, Souness and Redknapp but worse than Hoddle, Strachan (just), Pochettino, Koeman and Puel. So fair to middling, but these bare numbers don’t paint the full picture.  It’s been a rollercoaster ride, which I’ve written about before (View from the Kingsland: Ralph’s rollercoaster).

Hasenhuttl has divided opinion among fans like few other managers in my fifty years of fandom (perhaps Chris Nicholl again is the nearest comparison).  I’m guessing it’s pretty unique for a manager to survive not one but two absolute hammerings and, in addition, two terrible prolonged losing streaks. Some would have happily seen him gone three years ago, and at any time since.  Others, like me, have warmed to him personally and enjoyed the brand of football we have occasionally produced.  I particularly liked the way he took the cup competitions seriously and was (sometimes) prepared to go toe-to-toe with the biggest sides in the league.  And he took us to the top of the division, albeit for the briefest of visits.

I was at a funeral last week that felt very much like a commemoration of a life well lived.  Without sounding crass, I’m hoping that the history book regards Ralph’s time at our club in similar fashion.  He arrived at a time of deep despondency, and breathed life, passion and energy into the team and the club.  He was part of the leadership team that saw us through challenging financial circumstances, a change of ownership and a pandemic.  And all that he did with dignity and refreshing honesty.  He raised my hopes…and yes he dashed them.  

Like four Premier League clubs before us this season, Saints are now in the hunt for a new manager.  Nathan Jones, currently managing Luton, has been given permission by his club to talk to us; which probably means he’s top of our list.  Just hours after Hasenhuttl drove away from Staplewood, already fans are howling or cheering (mostly howling) about the prospect of Jones; offering their own choices, which vary from the sublime to the ridiculous.  

But that’s all for later.  For now, thanks Ralph, and good luck in whatever comes next.  

  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: