Newcastle United and the Toon Army will move down south on a rather long trip through the whole of England to face Southampton tomorrow. The Saints await in the confines of St Mary’s Stadium to host some lads that seem to be unstoppable these days when it comes to kicking balls around on top of green-grass fields.
Southampton FC, not so much.
The Saints are sitting 17th in the Premier League and are led, of course, by a very big Austrian man that goes by the name of Ralph. Big Old Hasenhuttl was born in Graz and all he did since the minute he graced Mother Earth was play football and then because it surely is his call, manage football teams.
Ralphy is a very accomplished footy personality, mind you. He appeared in 134 (!) games with Austria Wien and cooked himself 44 weiners. That happened between 1989 and 1994, so you can consider him the forefather of other very big folks like Jan Koller. I just came up with that not-very-related thing, but still.
Hasenhuttel even played for Bayern Munich II (the reserve side, what a bummer!) and all in all, he finished his career with 450 apps and 119 goals. In every team he played for, he scored at least three goals. Not bad! Also, three goals did he score in his national-team tenure with the Austrian contingent (8 apps).
The coaching, though, has been rather mediocre, to say the least.
This lad has managed in all places, at all levels. That includes a stint with RB Leipzig from Jul. 2016 to May 2018 in which he commanded the team to a 48% winning rate with 40 victories over his 83 games in charge. Of course, that served him the chance of getting poached by Soton, arriving in Southampton back on Dec. 2018... to win 34% of his games there since he got hired by the Saints. Not good.
Hasenhuttel has not put worse numbers at any other club. Under his guidance, the Saints' goal difference (-46) is the only negative mark the coach has achieved in any of his five teams managed. He has won at least 38% of his games in any other team he’s coached.
The only positive in Hasenhuttel’s Southampton resume is his 172 matches in charge, almost double his prior high (95 at Ingolstadt 04). Whether he’ll get to that mark (190 for the math-challenged) or not, we still don’t know.
One has to assume it’s going to be hella hard, though. Ralph is 18 games separated from reaching that record and that’d take him all the way to the end of this season. Of course, there are calls already there for him to pack his bags and get the hell out of Southampton, so you get an idea.
Oh, and it is Newcastle—yes, this team on an unbeaten run since Aug. 31st—visiting this weekend. Omens, omens...
If you read the intro above—which I dearly hope you did—you already know everything you need to know about Southampton’s coach and his precarious situation in south England. It is fun that Soton had their best run of results through MD5 of the Premier League season, coinciding with the day in which Newcastle dropped their last game—against Liverpool in the 117th minute.
Back then, it was all kinda rosy for the Saints, sitting ninth in the table with 7 points through five games played and fresh off defeating Chelsea at St Mary’s Stadium.
That matchup against the Blues was the last one before the Saints’ season took a 180-degree turn. Just peep at the table below, and you know what I’m talking about.
It’s been eight games in two months since that victory over Chelsea on the second-to-last day of August. Of those eight, Hasenhuttel has extracted three points from any of them exactly one single time—an edgy 1-0 win at managerless Bournemouth—following a four-game losing streak only broken by a draw home against West Ham followed by another draw against league-leaders Arsenal and most recently a loss to Crystal Palace away from home.
This season, in case you have not realized, has a very serious quirk to it: a freaking World Cup smacked right in the middle of it. You might wonder what that might mean. Well, the consensus opinion most experts, analysts, pundits, etc... are putting out on the airwaves and newspapers comes down to the WC break turning into an extraordinary period to fire those #sackszn hashtags.
In any other year, the likes of Brendan Rodgers and Ralph Hasenhuttel would have (most probably) been sacked by now. Leicester sit 18th with 11 points in 13 games; Southampton 17th with 12 points. Nottingham Forest decided to hand their underperforming coach an extension; other than that, all of Wolves, Aston Villa, and Bournemouth (within one or two points-distance from the Saints) have already parted ways with their managers, and Leeds’ coach surely seems to be on a very shaky platform himself.
Expect news coming in the next few days and weeks. It is very probable that Hasenhuttel becomes known as Sackenhuttel in Southampton if he can’t put together a bunch of miracles from now to mid-November.
There is one thing here that screams a healthy economy is the one in Southampton’s coffers: €70m+ spent, €0m raised.
Four guys arriving for €10m+ million each and Caleta-Car for €8m, not bad! The truth is, not bad indeed. All incoming transfers are 25 or younger and the two men at that age are more than proven, so nothing here to complain about. I love Joe Aribo and the lad led Rangers to last season’s Europa League final. He’s having a rough time after having moved places but he’ll get those bangers eventually.
Bella-Kotchap and Caleta-Car have been fantastic investments and Lavia is dealing with the Saints midfield wonderfully. Bazunu has started all 13 games and has yet to turn 21 years of age. That’s simply insane, no matter the outcomes—the next-youngest GK in the Premier League starting weekly is Illan Meslier and he’s two years Bazunu’s senior.
Southampton did well getting rid of a bunch of putrid, old, useless players in Nathan Redmond, Fraser Forster, Shane Long, and Oriol Romeu. Nobody is missing them. A sound win for the Saints on that front, who decided to ditch nonsensical experience for promising youth this season.
The growing pains are obvious, but the project looks solid and good from a long-term perspective. Back Ralphy, folks, he deserves it.
As many as 104 times have these two teams faced each other with the record favoring the men from Tyneside—by a hair. Newcastle have the edge over Southampton by a tiny four-game difference with a 42-38 record in favor of the Toon. There have been 24 draws between Magpies and Saints over the 124-year history of this matchup.
The first game took place in the 19th century when Southampton defeated Newcastle 1-0 in a FA Cup tie. They wouldn’t meet until almost exactly two years after that to kick 1900 off in another victory by Soton, 4-1 that time. It took Newcastle four defeats and a draw to finally, once and for all, and after more than 35 years of losing, win their first game against the saints: a 1-0 victory on Dec. 1st, 1934.
That, only in reverse, has been the story of this rivalry of late.
Southampton have defeated Newcastle just once in the past five seasons and six calendar years with their most recent triumph over the Magpies coming on Nov. 2020 after not doing so since Apr. 2016. Since then, Newcastle boasts a 6-1-3 record including one goalless draw and two ending in 2-2 results.
Starting in 1993 and with the advent of the Premier League, these two clubs have only met each other in the English top-flight division with two FA Cup detours (in 2004 and 2006) both ending in Saints 1-0 victories.
Che Adams has been a freakish revelation for Southampton in the first third of the 2022/23 campaign. His three goals lead all Saints and he’s also assisted another one. Nobody has contributed as much as Adams in the first 13 games of Premier League play for Southampton as Che.
Adams will be joined by Scottish lad Aribo on the forward line tomorrow, with the former Rangers striker having two goals himself—the only other Saint with at least a couple of netters in his bag so far.
James Ward-Prowse is past the summer-transfer-window hype phase and settled in Southampton for another year after rumors had him signing with at least 17 teams this past July. That’s good for him and his team as he’s still the best player in the Saints roster by a good chunk, no matter what the numbers say. Hard to see him making the Three Lions' final WC squad, but the 1,170 minutes played—every single minute played to date excluding extra time—tells you all you need to know about this lad.
Southampton will have to do without Kyle Walker-Peters and Valentino Livramento, both injured and out of tomorrow’s affair with Newcastle. Bella-Kotchap and Lavia, who didn’t play in Southampton’s last game, are back available with the former probably making it to the XI and the latter hitting the pine for a start.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before tomorrow’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
When and Where’s flowin’
- Date: Sunday, November 6th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST / 9:00 EST / 7:00 PST
- Location: St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton (England)
- Broadcasts: Sky Ultra HD, SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Main Event (UK), Peacock (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
How’s it goin’
Coming Home, Crystal Ball: Southampton 0-2 Newcastle
We’re glad you’re siding with Coming Home Newcastle before the game’s kickoff! Before that and if you want to join the discussion with fellow community members, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens. Drop your comments in the section below, engage with the community over Twitter, and enjoy the game come playtime!
Howay the Lads!