“IF YOU want guarantees, buy a washing machine.”

That’s how Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl introduced himself to the club’s supporters and a host of journalists at his unveiling.

He was responding to a question which asked whether he would be able to ensure the St Mary’s side maintained their Premier League status.

At the time, Saints were languishing at the wrong end of the table after a dismal start to the season under ex-boss Mark Hughes.

The Welshman paid the price for it and was quickly replaced by Hasenhuttl on Wednesday, 5 December, with his remit being to keep Saints in the top flight.

He brought with him undoubted passion, an eye for detail, some excellent one-liners, a renewed belief and a whole load more.

But perhaps, most importantly, he added a new way of thinking.

As previously reported by this paper, one of the first things he did was ask the groundsmen at Staplewood to add specific lines onto the training pitch.

And when they responded they’ll have it done by the following day, he quickly told them he wanted it done before the team stepped out to train a couple of hours later.

This, on his first day, was just an example of things to come over the next year.

Since then there’s been hours upon hours of analysis, pre-season hikes to the top of an Austrian mountain, a boat trip on the Solent, and who can forget the 4-0 thrashing his team handed out at Fratton Park?

It’s not all been plain-sailing, though.

After being beaten by Cardiff in his opening game, he guided the club to back-to-back wins against Arsenal and Huddersfield to ease the pressure going into the second half of the season.

However, their results dipped in February and it looked as though they weren’t going to have enough time to arrest the slide.

An upturn in form a month later led to victories against Fulham, Tottenham, Brighton and Wolves, with these points all but securing their Premier League safety.

Despite not winning any of their five remaining games, Saints went into the summer full of optimism.

There was hope that they’d finally be able to sell outcasts such as Guido Carrillo, Mario Lemina, Wesley Hoedt and Fraser Forster, only for them to be sent out on loan.

With a number of squad members leaving on a temporary basis, Hasenhuttl bolstered his side with Che Adams, Moussa Djenepo and Kevin Danso.

And then the fixture list came out, revealing a brutal start to the campaign at St Mary’s.

Their first five home games were against Liverpool, Manchester United, Bournemouth, Chelsea and Leicester.

And it was the game against the Foxes that produced not only Hasenhuttl’s lowest moment but also one of the club’s lowest moments since it was established in 1885. A 9-0 defeat, Saints’ biggest ever loss, left the proud Austrian looking and sounding desolate.

Reassurances from the club’s board and a close relationship with chief executive Martin Semmens afforded him the chance to hit reset over the international break.

He started to approach things the same way he used to when he arrived on the south coast this time last year.

And it’s started to pay off, following a draw and two wins from their last three games.

This has been enough to move them above the relegation zone, albeit by just a point, ahead of another vital game against Newcastle on Sunday.

Earlier in the week, Hasenhuttl was questioned by the Daily Echo about his first year in charge of Saints.

The 52-year-old took the opportunity to say how much he enjoys managing the club but to also outline what’s surprised him most over the last 365 days.

With 11 wins out of 38 Premier League games, he admitted the difficulty of England’s highest division is much tougher than he first anticipated.

Despite this, his attitude behind the scenes means he leaves no stone unturned when it comes to assessing the opposition. He will often spend hours analysing the way teams play and is always the first to arrive at Staplewood and the last to leave.

His intensity and passion live up to his ‘Alpine Klopp’ nickname, even if his team are at the opposite end of the table to Jurgen’s. It’s no secret that Hasenhuttl has ambitions to manage of England’s top sides but, for the time being, there is still plenty of work for him to do on the south coast.