Journalist Luke Hatfield is not convinced that Ralph Hasenhuttl is a significantly better manager than Dean Smith.
Smith’s Aston Villa side were beaten by Hasenhuttl’s Southampton 1-0 on Friday night, and the Villa boss was relieved of his duties just two days later, leaving the club looking for a replacement.
What’s the latest news on Aston Villa’s manager search?
In the hours since Smith was sacked, Villa have been linked with a host of high-profile names including Steven Gerrard and former Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
It is understood that Hasenhuttl is another coach who is being considered, as the Villans look to make a quick appointment so that the new manager can get straight to work, with the side’s first fixture after the international break coming against Brighton at Villa Park.
Hasenhuttl has been at Southampton since December 2018, and still has the best part of three years remaining on his contract.
What has Hatfield said about Hasenhuttl?
Hatfield feels Southampton have played some “fantastic” football with Hasenhuttl at the helm, and he admires the job that the Austrian coach has done.
However, he has his doubts about whether the 54-year-old could manage to do much better than Smith did in his time in charge.
Speaking about Hasenhuttl, he said: “At times, his teams can look fantastic, but other times, they can go on runs where they don’t. So, it doesn’t seem like a big upgrade on Dean Smith if they were to go for Hasenhuttl.
“But he’s a well-respected manager. He’s done a great job at Southampton, but I’m not too sure he’s the man to push Villa on.”
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Would Hasenhuttl be an upgrade on Smith?
Hatfield may have a point.
Since Villa returned to the Premier League in 2019, Southampton have only picked up nine more points than their top-flight rivals, and the Midlands side actually finished 12 points and four places higher than them last season.
Of course, it should be factored in that the South Coast club have not spent as much as Villa. For example, in the most recent transfer window, Smith was given almost £90m for players, while Hasenhuttl had to work with less than £40m.
Still, it does seem that Hasenhuttl’s team can sometimes be more style over substance, and Villa fans may want to see a bigger name brought in to replace Smith to help their side climb the table.
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