'I know the board' - Legend insists manager Hasenhuttl retains club's full support

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (Pic: PA)
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (Pic: PA)

SAINTS legend Francis Benali insisted he is “not surprised” manager Ralph Hasenhuttl remains in charge of the club and says the Austrian has the board’s full support.

The 55-year-old boss saw his odds of being the next Premier League manager to leave his post cut from 16-1 to as short as 7-4 over the course of this week.

However, Hasenhuttl looks set to remain in charge of the Saints squad until at least the visit of Everton next Saturday, October 1 (3PM).

Saints have picked up seven points from their opening seven matches but it is two defeats from the last two with back-to-back 1-0 losses in the Midlands.

Hasenhuttl is without integral midfielder Romeo Lavia, despite being just 18-years-old, and has weathered bigger storms than this as manager of the club.

Sport Republic invested around £60million in players during the summer window and only reluctantly sold a 30-year-old Oriol Romeu.

“I’m not surprised that Ralph Hassenhüttl is still manager of Southampton,” Benali told the Southampton International Boat Show.

Francis Benali (Pic: PA)

“I know the board and how they operate at Southampton, the new ownership coming in as well, and the support they give the board and the manager to get on and do their business.

“On a few of the heavy defeats, which no one likes to talk about so much, there was no knee-jerk reaction at the time from either the board or Ralph himself.

“We've seen already this season, there are clubs and owners that make decisions quickly and don't give a manager and his staff time to work on things and develop a plan and a culture and philosophy at a club, and Ralph has been given that.”

He added: “Ralph can still bring something to the club and it's a big season, in many ways, with the money that's been spent on the back of some heavy defeats in the past.

“I look forward to seeing what Ralph can do with his squad, and I’m excited for the club and the players that are currently here.”

Benali insists the next step for Saints is to win a major trophy for the first time since the FA Cup in 1976, and Hasenhuttl’s sides have performed well in the cup.

Saints reached the 2021 FA Cup semi-final before falling flat to eventual winners Leicester City at Wembley.

They also reached the quarter-final last campaign but suffered defeat to Manchester City at St Mary’s, and two of his three EFL Cup runs came at an end in the last 16 due to draws with City and Chelsea.

“If you look at the top sides and the Premier League and you look at the money each team has spent this summer, it’s large sums of money,” Benali said.

“I believe nine out of the 20 Premier League sides spent over £100m. So, for the rest of the clubs in the division, it’s near impossible to keep pace with them.

“As much as everyone would love to break into the top four or the top six, it’s so difficult with the size of those clubs, the power spending they have and the players they can attract, so it's getting harder for clubs like Southampton to compete in the Premier League.

“Personally, I'd love to see Southampton finish in the top 10, but the realism of it, is going to be tough.

“It would be great if the clubs could put some silverware on the mantelpiece, in the one-off cup games where the smaller teams have more of a chance against the top sides. For me, that is the next stage for the club – securing top-flight status year on year, but also trying to win a trophy.”

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