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Southampton-Cardiff City Preview
Ralph Hasenhuttl faces a potentially daunting challenge at Southampton, though he seems eager to answer the bell.
The Austrian makes his managerial debut for Southampton on Saturday, when they visit Wales to take on Cardiff City.
Two days after veteran gaffer Mark Hughes was sacked, Hasenhuttl was named manager of Southampton (1-6-8) on Wednesday, and was ready to work Thursday.
"The main goal is to not overload them in the beginning," Hasenhuttl told Southampton's official website.
"We need a few main details that are very necessary for Saturday, then afterwards we go on."
The 51-year-old Hasenhuttl's most recent managing gig came with Germany's RB Leipzig, where he went 40-19-24 in two seasons. He's known for a pressing style that tries to take advantage of an opponent's shortcomings. All whilst playing a fast-pace contest.
"That's the kind of football I want to see," he said. "Pressing will take a big part of our work in the next weeks, but it's not only about counter-pressing it's about more."
Southampton currently sit atop of the relegation zone after falling 3-1 at Spurs on Wednesday. The Saints' lone victory on the Premier League campaign came way back on Sept. 1, at Crystal Palace.
Hasenhuttl knows he has his work cut out for him, but whilst the honeymoon period commences, positivity flows as freely as pints are poured at pubs prior to kick-off.
"It will be a long journey we have, it will be an intensive one, but also a very emotional one, and one we can enjoy," Hasenhuttl said.
"They will get from me a respectful conversation and behaviour.
"I try to create here an atmosphere where everyone is prepared to work hard. It's an intensive way. They have to go with me, and I think I force a lot from them, but when they do that, they are welcome and they can follow us. And the guys who don't, will feel very quickly that they fall behind and it will be difficult."
Saints players seem eager for the chance to work with Hasenhuttl, and hope the fans are ready to welcome change.
"I think there's a real excitement around the club with the managerial change," defender Jack Stephens said. "It's important that we go in with an open mind and we take on board what ideas the new manager has got quickly.
"(Cardiff) is another big game and we need to go into that game raring to go. Positive, sticking together, and we need to get three points."
Whilst it's been mostly a difficult return to the Premier League for Cardiff (3-2-10), they are two places in the table and two points ahead of Southampton entering this matchday. All three of their league victories have come over the last seven matches, but they will look to rebound from a 3-1 loss at West Ham United on Tuesday.
Both sides played to a scoreless first half, but West Ham broke loose in the second, scoring all its goals over a 12-minute span. Josh Murphy made things seem less dismal for Cardiff with a goal in second-half stoppage time.
Updated December 6, 2018