Southampton have identified the former RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhüttl as the club's preferred choice to replace Mark Hughes, who was sacked on Monday morning after a dismal record of just three wins in 22 league matches since taking charge in March. Saints have sounded out Hasenhüttl, as well as Quique Sánchez Flores, the former Watford and Espanyol manager as potential candidates to help the club regain its identity and move up the table. Both Hasenhüttl and Flores are out of work after leaving managerial posts earlier this year.
Saints' former goalkeeper and first-team coach Kelvin Davis will take interim charge, including Wednesday's trip to Tottenham, though the club hope to have appointed a new manager in time for Saturday's trip to Cardiff. The club plan to appoint a manager for the long term, after the previous reigns of Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino and now Hughes ended prematurely.
Hughes's departure comes at a cost, with the club having to pay the Welshman around £6 million in compensation after sacking him six months into signing a three-year contract in May. Hughes's long-serving assistants, Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki, have also left.
Saints are keen on appointing a manager with the ability to lead a new era, as opposed to a short-term fix such as David Moyes or Sam Allardyce. They were previously interested in the sacked Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic, while the club last week distanced themselves from reports that they had approached Paulo Sousa.
Hasenhüttl ticks several boxes and worked with the former Southampton head of recruitment, Paul Mitchell, in Germany. The sackings of the vice-chairman Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter last month left Hughes's position in peril, with Saints stating the need to "take constructive action and provide new drive and direction to our football operations team". Hughes replaced Pellegrino in March, steering Saints to safety but the club find themselves 18th in the Premier League this term.