Southampton have sacked manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and opened talks with Luton boss Nathan Jones.
Hasenhuttl leaves the Saints after their 4-1 defeat to Newcastle on Sunday, which left them in the relegation zone after six losses in nine top-flight games. Assistant coach Richard Kitzbichler has also left the club.
The Austrian was the Premier League’s fourth-longest serving manager, having taken over at St Mary’s in December 2018. He is the fifth top-flight boss to be sacked this season after Scott Parker, Thomas Tuchel, Bruno Lage and Steven Gerrard.
Championship club Luton confirmed on Monday that they had given Southampton permission to talk to Jones. A statement said: “We would like to place on record that the Premier League club have approached the board in the correct manner, for which we are grateful, and that the whole situation is extremely amicable with Southampton and with Nathan.”
First-team lead coach Rubén Sellés will take charge on an interim basis for Southampton’s Carabao Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday.
A Southampton statement read: “Hasenhuttl departs having made a significant contribution to the club, overseeing some memorable results and also playing a key role in the development of our club infrastructure, identity and playing squad.
“However, we now believe it is an appropriate time to make a change. Everyone involved with the club would like to express their sincere thanks to Ralph for all of his efforts, as well as the unwavering commitment he has shown throughout his time as manager.”
During his spell at the club, Southampton suffered two 9-0 defeats in the space of 16 months as they lost to Leicester at home in October 2019 and were then thumped by the same scoreline at Manchester United in February 2021.
But Hasenhuttl managed to preserve Saints’ Premier League status by guiding them to 16th in his first season in charge followed by an 11th-placed finish in 2019/20, with 15th-placed finishes in his following two campaigns.
Hasenhuttl: We have not been good enough
Hasenhuttl admitted after the Newcastle defeat he did not see a way out for Southampton of their current form and when asked in his post-match press conference if this was his final game in charge, he said: “I have made a lot of decisions in my time here. Thankfully, I don’t have to make that decision.
“I cannot say the effort wasn’t there, but at the moment we are not taking the reward for the effort on the pitch.
“I think being in the relegation zone is a reflection of what we’ve done so far. It has not been good enough.”
Saints run out of patience with Hasenhuttl
Sky Sports’ Dan Sansom:
“You have to accept that we will have 10-15 defeats per season.”
Those were the words of Ralph Hasenhuttl when I spoke to him at Southampton’s training ground on Friday.
Two days later, a 4-1 thrashing by Newcastle at St Mary’s led to him losing his job as manager.
Southampton find themselves in the relegation zone after 14 games. Sunday’s loss was their eighth in the Premier League already this season.
Hasenhuttl had been used to pressure during his time on the south coast. Two 9-0 defeats and several poor runs of form since the Austrian’s appointment in December 2018 resulted in his position being questioned multiple times. But the 55-year-old always seemed to bounce back.
However, a sequence of six defeats in nine Premier League matches after £83m was spent this summer – mainly on young players – has seen the Southampton hierarchy run out of patience.
“Southampton are a team fighting for their lives. Unless they improve on being more aggressive and willing to take one for the cause, they’re going down,” former Saints boss Graeme Souness told Sky Sports.
Southampton did not want to take that risk with Hasenhuttl still in charge.