IT is always a sad day when somebody loses their job – but not least when it is a trio of long-serving and well-respected individuals within the club.

Joining in 2006, Kelvin Davis made 301 appearances for Saints as player, was club captain and a key figure in the rise from League One to the Premier League.

Super Kelv, since having moved into the backroom and eventually becoming first-team assistant coach, received the Forever Saint award earlier this season in recognition of his achievements.

Daily Echo: Kelvin Davis will always be a Saints legend (Pic: PA)Kelvin Davis will always be a Saints legend (Pic: PA)

Dave Watson had been at the club for eight years himself, initially as goalkeeper coach and head of goalkeeping – before assuming the same role as above, not in goalkeeping – that is down to Andrew Sparkes.

Craig Fleming, arriving a year later, worked his way up from under-18 coach to the first-team and is no less a part of the furniture. They all say goodbye to Staplewood Campus this summer.

Sport Republic’s arrival as owners of Saints promised calculated, data-driven decision-making based on lesser known and novel methods of statistical analysis.

But such is the emphatically disturbing end to the season, supporters ached to see impulsive action taken in some way or another.

Supporters who had spent a great deal of their time, energy and money travelling the country and providing excellent support to the St Mary’s side.

The nature of the decision, announced yesterday, will always feel like an emotional reaction to the one win in the final 12 Premier League matches, after pushing for a first top-10 finish under Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Daily Echo: Ralph Hasenhuttl with coaching staff in dugout (Pic: Stuart Martin)Ralph Hasenhuttl with coaching staff in dugout (Pic: Stuart Martin)

A well-warranted reaction to the concession of 30 goals in that dozen games, a symbolic 15th-placed league finish and perhaps an even more symbolic three points fewer amassed (40) than last season.

Exactly what Saints did not want to happen – another good season turning sour – did happen, and that is why fans demanded change.

That change could have come in three ways.

A commitment to a big and early spend on players to satisfy supporters quickly that enough will be different, changing manager altogether or refreshing a significant element of the coaching setup.

Clearly, the third option is the cheapest, least abrasive and most readily available one. So of course it will feel like a reactionary move.

That is not to say that the other options are taken off the table.

Daily Echo: Martin Semmens, Dragan Solak, Rasmus Ankersen, Matt Crocker and Toby Steele (Pic: Stuart Martin)Martin Semmens, Dragan Solak, Rasmus Ankersen, Matt Crocker and Toby Steele (Pic: Stuart Martin)

But it is clear to see, not suggesting anything about commitment or skillsets, that it was an inexperienced group coaching a Premier League first-team.

The club, in their statement, wished all three the very best in their next steps. That is a sentiment shared by all Saints fans grateful for their efforts across a number of roles.

There is opportunity now for Saints to bring in experienced winners who can offer fresh perspectives on what the club have been doing with their assets.

A chance to command leadership and build a stronger mentality – no team dropped as many as the 29 points Saints did from leading positions this season.

Newcastle, 11th, (24) and Leicester City, eighth, (21) were the only clubs who dropped more than 20 after going ahead.

Daily Echo: Saints' season ended with a 4-1 defeat at King Power Stadium (Pic: PA)Saints' season ended with a 4-1 defeat at King Power Stadium (Pic: PA)

It is also commonly accepted that players benefit from new voices – and Saints have not had a major shakeup in their coaching setup since 2019.

We do not know if these three coaches, given their pathways through the club to first-team roles, were Hasenhuttl’s chosen men.

Some may speculate they were not, but given to him to see through the period in which CEO Martin Semmens and the Saints board anticipated an eventual sale from Gao Jisheng to new owners.

But that, regardless, would not necessarily mean any disagreement in vision or direction.

Hasenhuttl regularly credited his coaches for the all-in work that he and they put in, and admitted to the Daily Echo he even took Watson’s liking of tall forwards to help with defensive actions into selection consideration.

(To the detriment of five-foot eight-inch Adam Armstrong’s season, no doubt.)

But Watson’s role on Saints defending set-pieces has not exactly been a roaring success.

Saints conceded 16 of their 67 goals from set-pieces this campaign, with only Leeds United, Leicester City and Everton shipping more via that method.

Admittedly, they have scored a joint-fifth best total of 15 from their dead balls – although four came directly from James Ward-Prowse free-kicks.

Mohammed Salisu’s long-throws often raised a smirk – or an eyebrow – amongst supporters in the ground. Will we see those again in August?

One supporter, Saint Harris, pointed out on Twitter the availability of Hasenhuttl’s former assistant and veteran coach/scout Michael Henke.

The 64-year-old, former Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund staff, and current Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld assistant boss, is only contracted to the end of June.

That is but one name, but an example of someone who would really be Hasenhuttl’s man, and a commitment to the refresh with the Austrian at the forefront.

Such a refresh probably leaves Hasenhuttl, and assistant Richard Kitzbichler, under pressure in the sense that improvement would now be an expectation.

And this is where I get back to a point alluded to earlier – the supporters’ opinions are first and foremost, given the privilege position from which writers enjoy the football.

Frustration at such an uninspiring, sadly predictable and yet even still somewhat surprisingly steep slide - when you have committed hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds to follow the team - is understandable.

But it is my opinion that Hasenhuttl, who has kept the side in the Premier League working under extremely difficult financial conditions, undoubtedly deserves to go again, providing that at least something is different.

Now it can be. But it is absolutely vital for Hasenhuttl that it is different.

Daily Echo: Ralph Hasenhuttl, contracted to 2024, has a crucial summer ahead (Pic: PA)Ralph Hasenhuttl, contracted to 2024, has a crucial summer ahead (Pic: PA)

The Premier League will allow five substitutions from next season and that grants the boss opportunity, indirectly and not as any result of the criticism, to act on supporters’ frustrations at the pace of in-game changes.

He has already indicated how he will switch the look of his teams as early as half-time with a couple of changes, and that has been a major gripe for supporters over the last three-and-a-half years.

You still feel that, if all eventual outcomes remain the same, it will later point to another, more significant, change needed.

But it looks to the outsider like a vote of short-term confidence in the manager – a chance to go fresh and to realise your vision.

For now, supporters’ expectations can shift towards Sport Republic allowing Hasenhuttl to move earlier in the market – like has so often been teased.

They have made clear from day one of arriving in Southampton that they will not be pulling up trees with enormous fees, following the much-admired model already in place under Semmens & co.

But it can be a summer tinged with the excitement of fresh ideas in the dugout meshing with the stability already in place, plus what Sport Republic really have to provide for their first full-season.

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