Former England striker Michael Owen has warned Southampton that ‘the huge clubs will come calling’ if their top players and head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl continue to impress this season.
Hasenhuttl’s job appeared under serious threat following Southampton’s humiliating 9-0 defeat at home to Leicester back in October 2019 but the 53-year-old has managed to turn the desperate situation around and the Saints now sit sixth in the Premier League table.
Danny Ings came back to haunt Liverpool with an exquisite lobbed finish in the second minute – the only goal of the game – on Monday night and an emotional Hasenhuttl dropped to his knees and broke down in tears after the final whistle at St Mary’s.
On the Austrian’s outstanding start to the campaign as Southampton manager, Owen told Premier League productions: ‘I’m certainly not being disrespectful to Southampton but they have got a long history of having some great managers and losing them.
‘They’ve had some even greater players and lost most of them to Liverpool! They’ve got some of the world’s best players that have played for Southampton.
‘But sadly for them, if you’re a top player in Southampton’s team then the huge clubs will come calling and that’s probably what will happen next.
‘Looking around their team, [James] Ward-Prowse is exceptional and could be one of the next but I’m sure they will do all they can to keep him.’
Hasenhuttl, who was nicknamed the ‘Alpine Klopp’ as he made a name for himself in Germany’s lower leagues over a decade ago, said it was a ‘special moment’ to get the better of his managerial rival.
Asked about his reaction to the 1-0 win, he explained: ‘It was a special moment.
‘I mean, we lost a player in the first half and out bench was [Shane] Longy and seven academy boys.
‘And then you have to bring them in one by one and they know what they have to do. It is the perfect evening.
‘We always talk about the limits we have as a club but we are working with these limits and it is even more enjoyable when you take wins like this today because it gives you the belief in everything you are doing today.’
‘You don’t expect to take points against this team, so this is bonus points, and the belief for the guys because they are happy.’