A catastrophic final 12 weeks of the season saw Southampton go from European dreams to clinging on for their Premier League life. They made it - barely - but the collapse couldn’t go unnoticed or unpunished.

It hasn’t.

On Wednesday evening, Southampton announced that three members of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s coaching staff were being let go: Kelvin Davis, Dave Watson and Craig Flemming.

Many fans have been calling for Hasenhuttl’s head but more than that they were calling for action. They needed to see that the new owners understand and agree that the slide to end the season was far from acceptable.

READ MORE: Saints squad assessment - Who should go? Who should stay?

Ambition can be shown in a number of different ways. Of course, fans want to see it in the form of incoming transfers but it can be shown in other ways as well. The biggest thing though is that it must be shown - not just said. This move, swift and rather ruthless, is action. It is a clear display from those in charge that the way this season has imploded will not just be allowed to happen. 

Of course, this can’t be the last step. The playing squad still needs to be revamped and some level of ambition must be shown there as well. But after a season in which Southampton went nowhere, change of some kind was clearly necessary and changes of some kind have quickly arrived. 

Daily Echo: Saints boss Hasenhuttl. Image by: Stuart MartinSaints boss Hasenhuttl. Image by: Stuart Martin

Most would have taken 15th and survival before the season but expectation is fluid in football and in February Hasenhuttl’s side were 9th and five points off of a European place. They picked up just five more points through the rest of the campaign. 

At Brentford in May, a large group of Saints supporters in the away section chanted ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ in Hasenhuttl’s direction, turning on the manager en masse for possibly the first time. 3-0 down, Southampton didn’t rally on the day before losing their last two games to compound the misery. 

READ MORE: What does the coaching set-up leave Hasenhuttl and Saints?

Patience had run out, fans making themselves clear that simply surviving this season wasn’t cutting it. Not another collapse, not like this.

Supporters wanted to see a reaction - an agreement from those in charge that this kind of disintegration would no longer be tolerated. Last season’s collapse - which in fairness wasn’t nearly as bad (13 points in the final 12 games vs five this around) - saw no real wholesale alterations.

Four first team players arrived on a permanent basis, but of those, only Tino Livramento played more than 50% of Saints’ Premier League minutes. No changes were made to the coaching staff either.

Daily Echo: Livramento in action vs Chelsea. Image by: Stuart MartinLivramento in action vs Chelsea. Image by: Stuart Martin

Danny Ings departed and an acceptance of their place in the pecking order seemed to set in from those calling the shots. The terrific run through the winter months reignited some dreams but the crash was significantly worse than before.

Sport Republic have expressed a desire to continue a similar strategy to what has already existed but from the start there has been a hope that Dragan Solak may be more willing to strive for something - whatever that is. It still needs to be proven though.

Multiple sources have told the Daily Echo that they expect Southampton to be very busy this summer with one person even saying the club is looking for players in “pretty much every position.”

Change - whether it’s wholesale revolution or a slower evolution - is needed and the first step has been taken. But it can’t be the last step.

The much bigger call would have of course been to part ways with Ralph Hasenhuttl as some fans wanted and still want. But what does this move mean for the Austrian? Well, it likely takes a potential sacking off the table for now as he looks set to at least start next season at the helm. After reviewing the disappointment, the three coaches have taken the brunt of the blame and rightly or wrongly, that should preserve Hasenhuttl’s place.

Daily Echo: Saints legend Kelvi Davis. Image by: PASaints legend Kelvi Davis. Image by: PA

But now Sport Republic have shown a ruthless streak. They’ve shown that at the most basic level, the second half of the 2021/22 season was not acceptable. Next season could well be make or break for Hasenhuttl. What would happen this time next year if the same occurs? What if Southampton start the season as sluggishly as they ended it? We’ll hopefully never find out but it’s a fair question to wonder after a fairly merciless triple-sacking. 

Kelvin Davis is obviously a club legend having joined in 2006 before going on to stay for 16 years as a player and then coach, captaining Nigel Adkins’ back-to-back promotion side.

Dave Watson arrived in 2015 as Goalkeeping Coach before moving up to the first team in 2019 while Craig Flemming joined a year later as U18s coach before becoming U23s coach and then first-team coach. 

It’s hard to judge these coaches individually without being privy to day-to-day training but as a whole - based on the results - the job wasn’t good enough. It’s cost the trio their jobs.

Regardless of who you believe had to go, this season has shown the need for fresh perspectives and ideas to challenge Hasenhuttl. Three years is a long time in football and it's been that long since the Saints coaching staff had any sort of significant shake-up. There's also been no real assistant or number two.

Appointed assistant manager to Hasenhuttl in December 2018, Danny Rohl departed in the summer of 2019 and the club didn’t replace him with Hasenhuttl happy to take more responsibility instead.

Everyone needs to be challenged and it’s possible that Hasenhuttl has been getting too comfortable but that is purely a hypothesis based on the outcomes we've seen. Either way, the decisions of this week have layed down the stakes. Consequences must occur when a failure of some kind happens in football and Southampton have shown that those consequences will now exist in the pursuit of something more ambitious.

As with every big decision, we’ll only find out if it was the right one at some point down the line. But a decision was made - action was taken - and that was an important first step.

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