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Ralph Hasenhuttl maintains focus on Southampton

Manchester United v Southampton – Premier League – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Peter Powell/NMC Pool)

Ralph Hasenhuttl will continue to focus on trying to help Southampton achieve their own “big targets” rather than worry about suggestions he could be a future Manchester United manager.

The Austrian has guided Saints into the top six, and briefly saw them at the summit in the middle of a seven-match unbeaten Premier League run.

Hasenhuttl, 53, has been touted as a potential successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford should United look to make a change in the dugout.

The former RB Leipzig boss signed a new four-year deal at St. Mary’s Stadium during the summer, and maintains he is very much committed to the Southampton project.

Asked if he aspired to manage a club like Manchester United one day, Hasenhuttl said: “No, a club of Man Utd (standing) not, but maybe a Champions League club or a Europa League club.

“But that doesn’t mean that I cannot manage this club and go there (into Europe). I have big, big targets with this club here.

“To speak of the international (European) spots in the Premier League, it is not really helpful because when you speak of the names you are competing with, I don’t have to tell you, there are six spots normally and you can fight for the seventh one.

“It’s not really a target you can seriously take, but you never know.

Southampton host United on Sunday, and Hasenhuttl expects continued progress.

“At the moment we have a good average of points. We have nearly 2.0 points average, this is definitely an average of points with which you can reach international (European) spots,” he said.

“Our goal is to keep this average of points as high as possible.”

United arrive at St Mary’s on the back of a midweek 4-1 Champions League win over Istanbul Basaksehir and have continued to impress away from home in the Premier League, winning all of their fixtures so far.

Nevertheless, with his side sitting 10th, albeit with a match still in hand, Solskjaer continues to face questions over the direction of his team.

Hasenhuttl, though, feels just looking at United’s league position does not tell the whole story.

“When you are in 10th position in the table and not top of the table, so (people will say) you don’t do a good job,” the Saints boss said.

“It (speculation) is normal, but when you look a bit deeper, and see them playing.

“I have seen some very good tactical games from them where they are very, very well organised.

“But sometimes it’s not consistent enough in some games. There are defeats, such as Tottenham at home, where you have a very bad day.

“When you do this as at Manchester United, it is normal you get criticism.

“This is the job you have to do there. I know this situation, how it is where wins are normal and draws are a disaster.

“It was nearly the same in Leipzig. You handle this.

“I am sure he does it well and he is more robust than people outside think he is.”

Hasenhuttl is himself not immune to being under the spotlight, with his side trashed 9-0 at home by Leicester last October.

The Austrian feels generally English clubs do show patience with their managers and believes the United board will have the “bigger picture” in mind.

“Don’t forget if you sack a manager, you are responsible for getting a better manager as the new one,” said Hasenhuttl, who arrived at Southampton in December 2018 with the club fighting to stay in the Premier League.

“There are no guarantees that it will be (that way). They know what they have to do and I wish them all the best.”