Gao must avoid Saints nightmare over key decision as report reveals club’s intentions – opinion

Gao must avoid Saints nightmare over key decision as report reveals club’s intentions – opinion

An update has emerged on free-agent manager Steve Cooper, regarding Southampton’s interest in his services.

What’s the talk?

According to Alan Nixon of The Sun  (12.09.21, pg. 64), via The 72, former Swansea head coach Steve Cooper is Southampton’s number one choice to replace Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The report claims that the Saints have identified Cooper should they need to replace the Austrian, whether that be because they decide to relieve him of his duties or because another club comes calling for his services.

Nightmare

Southampton owner Gao Jisheng must avoid a nightmare scenario by forgetting about any move for Cooper. The Saints chief must veto any deal for the ex-England youth head coach as it would be a terrible decision by the club, given how things went for his Swansea team last season.

His Swansea team rarely left fans excited as they went for a pragmatic, defensive, approach to Championship football. They ended the 2020/21 campaign in fourth place, but only scored 56 goals in their 46 league matches – compared to Brentford’s 79 and Norwich’s 75.

This ultimately played a hand in their failure to secure promotion, with his side winning just four of their last 14 matches – including a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Brentford in the play-off final as they failed to lay a glove on the Bees.

So, why would Southampton want to bring in a manager who was unable to produce good football in the second tier and is unproven as a coach at the top level? It could be a disaster situation for the Saints and one they must avoid, although it must be stressed that there is no suggestion Hasenhuttl will be going anywhere any time soon.

Hasenhuttl has averaged 1.31 points per game across 118 Premier League matches in charge of the Saints, compared to Cooper’s 1.61 points-per-game across 105 Championship games.

Given the gulf in quality between the two divisions and with Southampton battling relegation whilst Swansea fought for promotion, these statistics do not suggest Cooper would be an upgrade on the Austrian.

Hopefully, Hasenhuttl will remain at the helm for the foreseeable future and Gao will not need to be in a position where he needs to make a decision.

However, if such an occasion does arise then they could benefit from looking elsewhere instead of going for Cooper.

AND in other news, Fewer touches than McCarthy: Saints dud who lost 85% of his duels let Ralph down badly…

Source