Ex-Portsmouth skipper warns: Southampton taking big gamble on Ralph Hasenhuttl

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Former Pompey skipper Paul Merson believes Southampton will be taking a ‘big gamble’ if they appoint Ralph Hasenhuttl as their new manager.

The Blues’ arch rivals are reportedly set to appoint the former RB Leipzig boss as their replacement for Mark Hughes, who was sacked on Monday.

Paul Merson. Picture: Steve Reid

Paul Merson. Picture: Steve Reid

Austrian Hassenhuttl led Leipzig to a second-place finish in their first Bundesliga season (2016-17), before Die Bullen finished sixth last term.

But he has no experience of playing or managing in England.

And with Saints third from bottom in the Premier League with only one league win this season, Merson – who led Pompey to the 2002-03 First Division title – believes it will be a big ask for Hassenhuttl to maintain the club’s top-flight status.

That could then see the possible return of the south coast derby in the Championship next season, with Pompey currently four points clear at the top of League One.

Former Red Bull Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhuttl

Former Red Bull Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhuttl

Speaking on Sky Sports’ The Debate on Monday night, Merson said: 'I worry for Southampton, I do,

'I don’t know the man that's coming in but he's never been in the Premier League before and that's a big ask.

'A few years ago, managers came to clubs (in the Premier League) and they got relegated still.

'I think this is a big, big gamble.’

Merson’s reservations were echoed by former Fratton Park team-mate and The Debate guest Tim Sherwood.

He said Southampton were under pressure to get the appointment right.

'This appointment is going to be massive for them,’ added Sherwood, who was also part of Pompey’s 2002-03 title-wining campaign.

'They need to make sure they get it right because changing a manger doesn’t always guarantee there's going to be a change and manage to keep them safe.’

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