Nathan Jones was in his second spell with Luton, where he took them to the Championship play-offs last season; Southampton sacked Ralph Hasenhuttl on Monday after nearly four years in charge with the club inside the bottom three
Thursday 10 November 2022 14:09, UK
Southampton have appointed Nathan Jones to replace Ralph Hasenhuttl as the club's new manager on a three-and-a-half-year contract.
Jones, who has left Luton to take charge of the Saints, agreed his deal with the Premier League club on Wednesday before watching their Carabao Cup penalty shootout victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
He will be joined by coaches Chris Cohen and Alan Sheehan, and Sky Sports News understands a compensation package of around £2.5m will be paid to the Championship club.
Jones faces a daunting first match in charge at home to Liverpool on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) in Southampton's last fixture before the World Cup.
Jones said: "I'm really proud to be given this opportunity. I know a lot about the club from back in the days of The Dell, to coming here to St Mary's, and it's a wonderful football club.
"A lot of my family are Southampton fans, which doesn't half help, and I feel really, really proud to be given the opportunity, and I'm really looking forward to getting started.
"Obviously, I wanted to manage in the Premier League, I've dreamt of that since I've become a coach or a manager, but this club in particular - because of how it's run, because of the structure, because of how they look deeper than just results - really appeals to me."
Jones was in his second spell in charge of Luton, having led them to the Championship play-off semi-finals last season, where they lost to Huddersfield. He also guided the club to automatic promotion from League Two when he was first appointed.
Jones left the club in 2019 to go to Stoke, but, after an unsuccessful nine months in charge, he was sacked and returned to the Hatters in May the following year. Luton are ninth in the Championship, two points adrift of the play-off places after 20 games.
The Austrian was the Premier League's fourth-longest serving manager, having taken over at St Mary's in December 2018, but departed with the club inside the bottom three.
Sky Sports football journalist Laura Hunter:
Make no mistake, Southampton are taking a leap of blind faith. Yet outgoing manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and incoming boss Nathan Jones unusually share certain similarities that might help the transition period.
The Austrian's animated style made for memorable touchline theatrics. It is what initially endeared him to fans, and what eventually grated on players. But all associated with the south coast club valued his passion. Following confirmation of his exit, Southampton thanked Hasenhuttl for his "unwavering commitment".
Jones expresses similar touchline enthusiasm - in fact he has been known to end up in the stands while celebrating. It is a style choice. Some managers are mild-mannered and understated - consider Graham Potter - while others are deliberately intense and expressive.
Hasenhuttl would run half the length of the pitch - akin to Jose Mourinho - when Southampton scored goals of importance and the Welshman's outpourings of emotion are similar. That does not guarantee success, of course, far from it - but supporters are more likely to take to a manager that invests in their club.
Based on his record at Luton, Jones also has a history of delivering results on a shoestring budget. Granted, the EFL is a different playing field to the Premier League, but he has proved he can punch above his weight by getting the most out of players while managing considerable financial restraints.
He is a hands-on coach, which will benefit Southampton's youthful side. Leicester's James Justin and Bournemouth's Jack Stacey are two players who have previously profited from Jones' tutelage.
Southampton's mantra - potential into excellence - is part of the reason why they have plumped for an unproven manager. They simply cannot afford to outspend competitors, so their methods revolve around maximising in other areas. Focus is put on clever scouting and recruitment, player development pathways and creative and unique uses of sport science to aid performance.
Appointing a manager with no prior Premier League experience, therefore, is a risk but one that fits with their methodology. Besides, Hasenhuttl had no prior Premier League know-how before taking up his posting of nearly four years, albeit he had managed in the German top flight.
Jones' footballing philosophy will also be popular with fans - his sides tend to press high and play with an attack-minded approach. He has improved upon league position every year of his managerial career to date.
His fateful 10-month spell at Stoke City, however, will rightly ring alarm bells. There will be no expectation placed on this weekend's trip to Anfield, but beyond that Southampton need results.
Should Saints lose against Liverpool, it will be the first time they have spent Christmas in the drop zone of a Premier League campaign since 2004/05 - they were relegated that season.
The St Mary's hierarchy will be hoping Jones is the man to steer Southampton away from that very same fate.