Reports claim Southampton are lining up former Swansea manager Steve Cooper as a possible replacement for Ralph Hasenhuttl should the Austrian part company with the club.
Hasenhuttl, 54, has been at the St Mary’s helm since December 2018, winning 43 of his 118 games in charge. He guided Saints to a 15th-place finish last season but it was far from a smooth ride. They lost eight of nine Premier League games from mid-January onwards.
That run included a 9-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United. And it was not the first time the former RB Leipzig chief had witnessed that scoreline.
In October 2019, Leicester City struck nine unanswered goals at St Mary’s during a dreadful start to that campaign. There have been rumours during the past couple of years that Hasenhuttl’s days on the south coast may be numbered.
But he has always managed to hang on to his job. However, it remains to be seen how much patience the club’s hierarchy have this term.
Southampton have taken three points from their first four games of 2021-2022 but have yet to win. Saturday’s goalless draw at home to West Ham United sees then 14th in the top-flight standings.
Cooper holds advantage over rivals
Cooper did not enjoy a particularly successful playing career, turning out 57 times for Bangor City. But he has impressed in the coaching world, enjoying roles with the England Under-16 and Under-17 sides.
That followed on from working with Wrexham Youth and Liverpool Youth, where his stock rose considerably. The Welshman took over at Swansea in June 2019, penning a three-year deal at the Liberty Stadium.
But he left after two years in the post after failing to guide the Swans into the Premier League. They reached the Championship play-offs in both of his campaigns in charge, losing twice to Brentford.
The west Londoners were too good in the semi-finals in the summer of 2020. While Thomas Frank’s side beat them in the final last season.
The Pontypridd-born tactician has made no secret of the fact he wants to manage in the top flight. And the link to Southampton is obvious, with director of football operations Matt Crocker a former work colleague at the Football Association.
Cooper, 41, is still out of work after leaving South Wales with a near 45 per cent win rate on his CV. He was linked with the Crystal Palace job but the Eagles opted for Patrick Vieira instead.