Ralf on Ralph: 'He's a wonderful person'
Ralf Rangnick has praised the leadership skills of Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and called him ‘one of the smartest people in football’.
Rangnick and Hasenhuttl worked together at RB Leipzig, with the latter guiding the German side to a second-placed finish in their maiden Bundesliga campaign in 2016/17.
Hasenhuttl has been in position at Southampton since 2018, successfully steering them clear of relegation in each campaign and recovering from a couple of heavy defeats – including the 9-0 reverse at Old Trafford 12 months ago.
To read what Ralf has said about Ralph, as well as his comments on Sancho, Shaw and Rashford, scroll below to read his matchday Q&A with MUTV’s Stewart Gardner…
Watch our exclusive Rangnick interview
Ralf previews today’s game by praising an in-form Red and outlining his respect for Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl…
“Alex resumed training yesterday. He might be available, I’ll have to speak to him after training today about how he feels because he was out for one-and-a-half, almost two weeks but he took part in training yesterday. The three players who will not be available tomorrow are still Eric Bailly, Fred, obviously because he was still testing positive, and Nemanja Matic, he has some problems with his shin. He has been having these kind of problems for the last couple of days, almost a week. He was still available, but he couldn’t train for the last two training sessions and he also won’t be training today. Those are the three players that are not available for the game tomorrow.”
This is the first of two home games in four days, how important do you think it is to build some momentum by getting two victories in these games?
“Highly important, but always in a position that we are right now, we shouldn’t give away any more points. That’s why we were very disappointed about the result at Burnley. I think we should have won that game. We would have deserved to win that game, but we didn’t and that’s why it’s even more important now to get maximum points out of the next games. Yes, the two home games but after that against Leeds – to get as many points as we possibly can.”
We’ve only conceded seven goals in the nine games under you, Ralf. Are you pleased with that part of our play at the moment?
“Yes, I think I’m quite pleased with the development overall. Both in possession of the ball – I think we created a lot more chances in the last couple of games than we did before that. If I compare our performance at Burnley with our performance at Newcastle or against Norwich, I think we were far better, we were far more dominant. But in the end, we won at Norwich and we only got a point at Burnley and this is why we’re obviously not happy at the result. I think the overall development both in possession and not in possession of the ball is there, it’s obvious. I think the players feel it themselves but now in football it’s about getting results. If we want to finish fourth at the end of the season, we should not and cannot give points away as we did at Burnley.”
Everyone can see the chances are coming and being made, do you think it’s just a matter of time before the goals start coming to reward those performances?
“Yes but we all know that this is the difficult part. Obviously we had opportunities, not only the two disallowed goals but also the opportunity with, for example, Edi or the ones we had against Middlesbrough, not to forget the game at Aston Villa when we were also 2-0 up. Those are four points – the two points at Villa Park and the two points at Turf Moor – we should have had and with four points we’d be in a different place and a different position with regard to fourth place. But we didn’t and this now is what we have to face, just make it better and get better on that in the next weeks.”
Jadon Sancho seems to be playing some of his best football since joining United, playing on the left side. What do you make of how he’s improved over recent weeks?
“He did, but this was necessary. We had quite a few conversations just between Jadon and myself. The same with Marcus, I also think Marcus played quite well at Burnley in the first half. As I said, I’ve known Jadon for four or five years now. When he was 17, I was trying to lure him to Leipzig and yeah, this is the kind of performance that we need, that he should play regularly on a permanent basis. Also for him, he can still get better and improve his performances but, so far, in the last weeks, there was a development in a positive way. He’s in good shape right now and it’s about making sure he can play on this kind of level continuously.”
There seemed to be a nice understanding with Luke Shaw. How important do you think the understanding between the full-back and the wide forward is?
“Very important, both defensively and offensively. We had quite a few moments offensively with underlap or overlap situations. Also the goal that we scored was exactly that kind of situation with an underlap from Luke Shaw and a perfectly played ball to Paul Pogba. Yes, it’s important: on the left side, I agree this happened in the last couple of games between Luke and Jadon. Now we have to make sure this happens on the right side.”
And a word on Ralph Hasenhuttl as well, who had success at Leipzig. I wondered what you make of him as a coach and how he’s done with Southampton?
“I mean he has developed the team and he had to deal with some quite difficult situations. I think they lost 9-0 against Leicester and also against Manchester United. To survive two situations like that, it also shows how much he’s been respected inside the club and, as I said, I owe it to him very much because he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in professional football. He just deserves it, he’s a wonderful person and I think his leadership skills are great. He got on with the players extremely well at Leipzig and the same is true if you could see them celebrating after the final whistle at Tottenham. You can see how close the relationship between himself and the players are.”