(Reuters) - New Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuettl is making no promises that he can steer the south coast club away from the Premier League’s relegation zone but says he is relishing the challenge.
“If you want guarantees, you have to buy a washing machine,” the Austrian told reporters in his first news conference. “Not in football.”
Southampton have won only once in their opening 15 Premier League games and are in 18th place after a 3-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday when Hasenhuettl watched from the stands.
Despite creating many opportunities at Wembley, Southampton’s defending once again let them down and the former RB Leipzig coach, who replaced Mark Hughes this week, identified that as his first priority as he looked forward to Saturday’s trip to fellow strugglers Cardiff City.
“It is tough but I am not frightened,” Hasenhuettl said. “My goal is to develop the players as quickly as possible.
“It is about getting the defence stabilised quickly. The first target is to get out of the relegation zone.
“The focus for the near future has to be move as quickly as you can up the table. I want to put my footsteps in the snow here ... It’s a bit back to the roots for me... The step is not the easiest one but I never want it easy in my life.”
Southampton also face Arsenal, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Manchester City later this month before taking on Chelsea in their first match of the new year — a tough opening spell for the 51-year-old.
Hasenhuettl, however, is confident he can instil his high-intensity style at Southampton and start picking up points.
“It is a results business and we have to get them as soon as possible,” he said.
“We’ve a lot of games coming up and if you know my football it’s about training sessions and habits, so when you don’t have the chance to train it can be difficult to change things.
“I feel it’s a very physical division. The speed is high and I don’t want to compare it to Germany, but it is a way of playing I like. I think my kind of football fits well with this league, and I want my players to show it.”
Hasenhuettl has been dubbed the “Klopp of the Alps” but says he does not appreciate any comparisons with Liverpool’s manager.
“I’ve heard about that. I don’t like it so much because I want to be my own character,” he said.
“When I can do it similar, it would be fantastic for me, but that’s too far away now. We have other targets, other goals and other problems. Let us start and see how far away our limits are at the moment.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Martyn Herman and Alison Williams