LONDON • Southampton have identified the former RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhuttl as the Premier League club's preferred choice to replace Mark Hughes, who was sacked yesterday after a dismal record of just three wins in 22 league matches.
The Saints, who find themselves in 18th place this term, have sounded out Hasenhuttl, as well as former Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores, as potential candidates to help the team regain their identity and move up the table.
Both Hasenhuttl and Flores are out of work after leaving their former roles earlier this year.
Former Saints goalkeeper and first-team coach Kelvin Davis will take charge on a caretaker basis, including tomorrow's league game at Tottenham, though the club hopes to have a new manager in place for Saturday's trip to Cardiff.
Hughes' exit comes at a cost, with Southampton having to pay him around £6 million (S$10.5 million) in compensation after firing him six months into signing a three-year contract in May.
His long-serving assistants Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki have also left.
Mark Hughes of Southampton is the second Premier League manager this season to get the sack after Fulham's Slavisa Jokanovic.
Southampton plan to appoint a manager for the long term, after the reigns of Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino and now Hughes ended prematurely and are not keen on a short-term solution such as David Moyes or Sam Allardyce.
They were previously interested in the sacked Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic, while they last week also distanced themselves from reports that they had approached former Fiorentina boss Paulo Sousa.
Hasenhuttl ticks several boxes and had worked with former Saints head of recruitment, Paul Mitchell, in Germany.
The sackings of vice-chairman Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter last month left Hughes' position in peril, with Saints stating the need to "take constructive action and provide new drive and direction to our football operations team".