Ralph Hasenhuttl

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been sacked as Southampton manager following their 4-1 defeat to Newcastle on Sunday.

The Saints are languishing in the relegation zone in 18th place having won just once in their last nine games – and just three times all season.

Hasenhuttl has been in charge of the club since December 2018 when he succeeded Mark Hughes.

Southampton announced that first team assistant Richard Kitzbichler had also departed.

Luton boss Nathan Jones has emerged as the early front-runner for the job, according to bookmakers, with the 49-year-old 1/5 with Bet Victor.

In a statement, the club said: ‘Hasenhüttl, who was appointed in December 2018, departs having made a significant contribution to the club, overseeing some memorable results and also playing a key role in the development of our club infrastructure, identity and playing squad. However, we now believe it is an appropriate time to make a change.

‘Everyone involved with the club would like to express their sincere thanks to Ralph for all of his efforts, as well as the unwavering commitment he has shown throughout his time as manager.

‘First Team Lead Coach Rubén Sellés will take charge of the side on an interim basis for our game on Wednesday night. The club will be announcing a permanent replacement in due course.’

Sportsmail had reported on Sunday that following the defeat to Newcaslte, Hasenhuttl’s time at the club was on the brink of ending.

His position at the club was hanging by the flimsiest of threads in the wake of an eighth defeat in 14 Premier League games, which left his side in the bottom three.

The Saints hierarchy were stuck with the dilemma of whether to formally drop the axe before or during the World Cup, but they have decided to make the decision on Monday.

By Sunday night, he appeared almost resigned to his fate following the defeat to Eddie Howe’s high-flying side. Asked directly if he feared the sack, he said: ‘I have taken a lot of decisions since I’m here but I don’t have to take this one.’

More tellingly, when the 55-year-old was pressed on whether he could see a way out of the slump, he added: ‘No…. Not at the moment.’

At the time of Hasenhuttl’s arrival in 2018, Southampton were lying in 18th place, before Hasenhuttl guided them to safety that season.

Over the three subsequent campaigns, Southampton have finished 11th, 15th and 15th, but they have been on a dismal run of form over recent months.

Since March earlier this year, he has picked up just 17 points from 26 games, with the south coast outfit conceding a whopping 54 goals during that period.

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