Ralph Hasenhuttl: Sir Alex Ferguson helped inspire me to turn things around at Southampton
"I received an SMS from Alex Ferguson...that was the positive thing from the 9-0 result. It gave me a lift as I was down and was looking for something to hold onto."
Last Updated: 29/04/20 3:16pm
Ralph Hasenhuttl has revealed a supportive text message from Sir Alex Ferguson after Southampton’s 9-0 defeat to Leicester helped inspire him to turn things around.
That late October defeat heaped pressure on the Austrian boss, extending Southampton's winless run at St Mary's to eight games dating back to April and dropping them into the bottom three.
Despite calls for Hasenhuttl to be sacked, the Southampton hierarchy stood by their man and he rewarded that faith by going on a sensational run of form that started in November.
That sequence of results, which saw them beat Chelsea and Tottenham along the way, culminated in a 2-1 win at Leicester, which helped banished the memory of the painful St Mary's defeat and moved the club into mid-table.
The remarkable turnaround has won Hasenhuttl and the club plenty of admirers - but it seems the Saints boss already had one during his lowest moment in football management.
In an interview with Saints legend Matt Le Tissier and Patrick Davison, he told The Football Show: "I received an SMS from Alex Ferguson [after the 9-0] - I didn't know him. If I had never lost 9-0 I would have never had contact with him. That was the positive thing from the result. It really helped me. It gave me a lift as I was down and was looking for something to hold onto.
"I will have to live with this result my whole life. But when we won 2-1 in the rematch, the story is a good one. It's helped me become a more experienced manager."
Southampton's unwavering support of Hasenhuttl following that 9-0 defeat showcased just how highly they regard him. Chief executive Martin Semmens decided to swim against the usual Premier League narrative of sacking managers and keep faith in the club's long-term project with Hasenhuttl at the helm; a decision the manager himself is greatly thankful for.
"If I was in his [Semmens] place, I would have sacked me," he said.
"We were hopeless, an absolute disaster.
"But Martin said that he knew how much I'd invested in the club. He was 100 per cent sure we'd get back to successful days. We had lost some of our direction, especially myself.
"It was the first time in my managerial career that I was unsuccessful. For me, it was a very important period and I learnt a lot. When I look back it was a very difficult situation as we lost 9-0 then had to face Manchester City twice - it gave us a chance together to fight as a team.
"The reaction from the team was fantastic. We made the right decisions, changed the shape. I was getting back to what made my teams strong and this gave us the belief we could turn this around.
"The last answer for what we did was the second league game against Leicester. Normally as a coach you don't have a chance to turnaround, normally it's the next manager that gets the chance, not you. I did get that chance and was very thankful."
'We want to do our job'
Despite suffering back-to-back defeats before the Premier League was suspended, Southampton find themselves seven points clear of the relegation zone and look on course to preserve their top-flight status for another season.
Hasenhuttl has been keeping in touch of the situation in Germany, where he burst onto the scene managing RB Leipzig.
Despite a ban on all large gatherings through the end of August in Germany, the Bundesliga are hoping to restart the league without spectators as early as May 9.
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Germany's plans to resume behind closed doors will be closely watched across Europe.
"They are ahead in Germany as they found a way to minimise the risk with very clear rules on how to handle a training session," Hasenhuttl said.
"I know they have been training for four weeks now since the shutdown. So in the shutdown they were always training - I have a few manager contacts out there and asked them how they did it and what they were focusing on. Germany handled it very well.
"We all know the most important thing is to stay healthy and minimise the risk. It's a lot about testing, a lot about the organisation around the sessions: how to eat together, how to shower together. They were training in smaller groups but are now back in bigger groups, playing 11 vs 11 games that prepare you for the leagues.
"The games are under strict rules and it will be interesting to see how they handle it. They had a clear plan, if there's a clear plan and we can do it safely we want to our job. That's what everybody wants to do.
"We must find a way for the economy to get back normality, step by step. People are now very sensible about how dangerous the virus is that everybody knows you have to be disciplined. If we are doing this then that's a good argument to go back to normality, step by step."