Ralph Hasenhuttl and Southampton owners absent when three coaches were sacked over video call

Southampton managers Craig Fleming, Kelvin Davis and Dave Watson received the news of his resignation via video call, without Ralph Hasenhuttl or any of the new owners showing up to explain the reasons behind the decision.

The trio’s departure has caused considerable unrest among club officials after weeks of rumors that there would be major changes to the first-team coach’s configuration. In the end, they were briefed on a video call by the club’s director of football operations, Matt Crocker, who has so far mostly worked with the academy and youth teams. The conversation was also joined by the club’s human resources director, Michelle Butler.

There remains some uncertainty surrounding the club’s future training structure, where results have plummeted in the final weeks of the season. The loss to Leicester City over the weekend was the ninth defeat in the last 12 league games of the season.

Hasenhuttl has been told so far that he maintains faith in the new ownership, led by Serbian communications billionaire Dragan Solak, but the changes to his British squad have been presented as a decision taken by the club’s board. Coach Richard Kitzbichler, an Austrian who joined in 2019, retains his position in Hasenhuttl’s squad.

Sport Republic, Solak’s company, acquired a 90% controlling stake from Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng in January. Solak’s top advisers are Rasmus Ankersen, a former Brentford director of football who is now a director of the Saints and chief executive of Sport Republic. His Danish teammate Henrik Kraft is also now a key figure at the club.

While there is an acknowledgment that changes are likely to come, there is surprise in the way this has been done. Davis, 45, is a former Saints captain who has been with the club for 16 years, his first 11 as a starting goalkeeper. He received a testimony at St Mary’s after his retirement.

He has since worked at the club in a developmental role and was briefly interim manager in 2018 following the sacking of Mark Hughes. Watson, a former England goalkeeper coach, has been with the club since 2014. Fleming arrived a year later and worked at the club’s academy before his 2018 appointment to the first team.

The appointment of the new Hasenhuttl team has not yet been announced by the club. Southampton declined to comment. In a statement on Wednesday night, the club expressed its “sincere thanks” to the three.

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