Hasenhuttl: Project Big Picture would ruin chance of ‘a Leicester’

Date published: Thursday 15th October 2020 1:45 - Will Ford

Ralph Hasenhuttl Southampton

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl believes Project Big Picture would have made the Premier League “boring” and prevented a repeat of Leicester’s shock 2016 title triumph.

Hasenhuttl was unsurprised to see the revolutionary proposals – which would have given greater power to the division’s so-called ‘big six’ sides – unanimously rejected by top-flight clubs.

The Austrian feels the plans were short-sighted and would have detracted from the entertainment and unpredictability of English football.

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He also feared they threatened to severely limit the number of potential champions, referencing Bayern Munich’s domination of the Bundesliga and Juventus’ stranglehold on Serie A, as well as the thrilling 2015-16 season when Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes defied odds of 5,000-1 to finish top.

“I am not really surprised (about the rejection of the plans) because when you hear the rumours around the fans and everybody, you could feel immediately that there is not a big support for this idea,” he said.

“I think it’s short thinking because maybe you get immediately a little bit more money or a better advantage for yourself.

“But in the end it ends up in a league that maybe has one champion for the next nine years like in Germany or in Italy. For me, it’s boring, to be honest.

“What I like so much about the Premier League is that we have every two, three years a new champion. ‘A Leicester’ will never be possible with these changes.

“I am very happy that they have seen it is better to stick with what we have done here so far in England because it’s not a coincidence that it is the most famous and the most popular league in the world.

“The reason why the Premier League is so famous is because it’s the most competitive in the world – a 7-2 result from (Aston) Villa against Liverpool is what makes this league so interesting. This is what nobody wants to miss.”

Southampton face one of the big six clubs this weekend, travelling to Chelsea on Saturday.

Hasenhuttl has branded his preparation for the game “a disaster” as some of his squad are still yet to report back from international duty.

“I don’t understand the three games – suddenly we must play three games for the international, one friendly and two Nations League games,” he said.

“I know everybody wants to have this competition but arriving on Thursday or maybe Friday is definitely a disaster for us for preparing for the weekend.

“We have to handle it like always but it’s not perfect.”

Hasenhuttl could hand debuts to recent recruits Theo Walcott and Ibrahima Diallo at Stamford Bridge, but midfielder Stuart Armstrong will be absent following his recent positive coronavirus test.

Former England forward Walcott came through Saints’ academy and is looking to resurrect his career on the south coast having completing a loan move from Everton.

“With Theo, we know about his history at the club,” said Hasenhuttl.

“He had no game time in the end at Everton so there was a chance to get him here. And if you have the chance to get such a player in here who is still hungry, who still wants to learn, who has quality without a doubt…it is definitely a player that makes us better.

“It was good to work with him this week and I am looking forward to having him here and I am sure we will have a lot of fun.”


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