Ralph Hasenhuttl says he is having to come to terms with Southampton’s daily Premier League “survival fight” as he reaches three years at the Saints helm.
The Premier League’s first Austrian manager pledged to “leave my footprints in the snow” on his arrival at St Mary’s Stadium in December 2018. The 54-year-old has since become Southampton’s longest-serving manager since Chris Nicholl. But now he has revealed he has had some adjusting to do in that time.
The former RB Leipzig coach conceded he arrived in English football with designs on driving Saints into Europe but quickly had his eyes opened to the Premier League’s financial and tactical might.
Asked to review his time at Southampton to date, Hasenhuttl replied: “You want me to give a summary of all that in one minute!
“I’ve been here a long time now yes, and I knew that it would be tough.
“I was coming from a Champions League club. And now I’m at a club where the main goal is to stay in the league.
“It’s a survival fight every day, every week, with the limits we have with a club. But we’ve made some good progress.
“Even if you sell players for a lot of money we are trying to rebuild the team, this is the way we have to go.
“This was a change in my mind also, it took a little bit to understand this, to be honest.
“When we were coming here we had targets of bringing the club as high in the table as possible, maybe reaching European places.
“But then you see how strong the league is. You see the potential, and there’s another team coming now in Newcastle with absolutely more financial potential than we have.
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“But the job is not affected by this hard work, it’s still fantastic. I enjoy my job every day, and it’s fantastic to work at this club with my staff and this team.
“We do the best to bring good games to the supporters, to make them proud of our team and our club.”
Southampton will host Graham Potter’s Brighton on Saturday hunting a first win in four Premier League outings, with Hasenhuttl reflective on his south-coast tenure – but also itching for improvement.
“My wife and I enjoy life here very much, it’s a wonderful place to live. I love the people. I love the respect they give to you in every part of your life here,” said Hasenhuttl, who penned a new four-year deal in June 2020.
‘I miss the mountains of Austria’
“I really must say that from this part, there’s not that much that I miss. Okay maybe I miss the mountains of Austria, but they are not running away, they are waiting for me.
“The league is getting stronger and tougher every year. There’s so much money in the league and the best players are coming to the league.
“Everybody is developing and very good new managers are coming with clear plans.
“It’s the toughest league in the world, but it’s so enjoyable to manage here because you learn a lot.
“When you speak about three years being here, I’m definitely a better manager than I was when I arrived.
“We’ve conceded eight goals in three games, okay four against red-hot Liverpool. But this is something I thought we had put out of our game. And now it’s back on the list of things we have to solve.
“Brighton have a very open-minded manager that picks the best parts of everybody’s games and brings it together.
“They are one of the best organised teams and have made fantastic progress. So I have to say absolute congratulations to my opposite number there.”