Southampton have reached an agreement with Nathan Jones of Luton to replace Ralph Hasenhuttl as the club’s new manager.
Jones agreed a long-term deal after meeting the Premier League side on Wednesday.
Southampton would pay Luton compensation of around £2.5m for Jones and his assistants, Chris Cohen and Alan Sheehan.
The 49-year-old will be at Southampton’s Carabao Cup game against Sheffield on Wednesday night before being confirmed as Saints’ new manager on Thursday.
Speaking after Luton’s 2-0 defeat at Stoke – his former club – on Tuesday, Jones admitted Southampton were a “wonderful Premier League club”.
He added: “It’s not the first chance I’ve had to talk to people but I didn’t want it. It’s slightly different because of the situation and the club he is. It will take something really special to take me from here.”
Jones was in his second spell in charge of Luton having led them to the semi-finals of the Championship play-offs last season, where they lost to Huddersfield. He also guided the club to automatic promotion from Ligue 2 when he was first appointed.
Jones left the club in 2019 to go to Stoke, but after an unsuccessful nine months in charge he was sacked and returned to the Hatters in May the following year.
Luton are ninth in the Championship, two points clear of the play-off places after 20 games.
Southampton sacked Hasenhuttl on Monday after nearly four years in charge of the club following their 4-1 loss to Newcastle.
The Austrian was the Premier League’s fourth longest-serving manager, having taken over at St Mary’s in December 2018, but left with the club in the bottom three.
Analysis: Jones a risk but suitable for Southampton
Laura Hunter, Sky Sports football reporter:
Make no mistake, Southampton is taking a blind leap of faith. Still, outgoing manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and new boss Nathan Jones uncharacteristically share some similarities that could help the transition period.
The Austrian’s lively style created memorable theatrics. That’s what first endeared him to fans, and ended up annoying players. But everyone associated with the south coast club appreciated his passion. Following confirmation of his exit, Southampton thanked Hasenhuttl for his “unwavering commitment”.
Jones expresses similar enthusiasm on the touchline – in fact, he’s been known to end up in the stands while celebrating. It’s a style choice. Some managers are soft and quiet – think Graham Potter – while others are deliberately intense and expressive.
Hasenhuttl would run half the length of the pitch – like Jose Mourinho – when Southampton scored important goals and the Welshman’s outpourings of emotion are similar. It doesn’t guarantee success, of course, far from it – but supporters are more likely to go to a manager who is investing in their club.
Based on his record at Luton, Jones is also used to delivering results on a shoestring budget. Admittedly, the EFL is a different playing field to the Premier League, but it has proven it can punch above its weight by getting the most out of players while managing considerable financial constraints.
He is a hands-on coach, which will benefit Southampton’s youth. Leicester’s James Justin and Bournemouth’s Jack Stacey are two players who have already benefited from Jones’ tutelage.
Southampton’s mantra – potential for excellence – is part of the reason they have opted for an unproven manager. They simply can’t afford to spend more than their competitors, so their methods revolve around maximizing in other areas. The focus is on smart scouting and recruitment, player development pathways, and creative and unique uses of sports science to drive performance.
Appointing a manager without previous experience in the Premier League is therefore a risk but which corresponds to their methodology. Moreover, Hasenhuttl had no prior Premier League know-how before taking his nearly four-year-old job, despite having been successful in the German top flight.
Jones’ football philosophy will also be popular with fans – his teams tend to press high and play with an attack-oriented approach. He has improved his position in the league every year of his managerial career to date.
His fateful 10-month spell at Stoke City, however, will rightly ring alarm bells. There will be no expectations for this weekend’s trip to Anfield, but beyond that Southampton need results.
If Saints lose to Liverpool it will be the first time they have spent Christmas in the drop zone of a Premier League campaign since 2004/05 – they were relegated that season.
The St Mary’s hierarchy are hoping Jones will be the man to steer Southampton away from that same fate.
The Saints Lack Patience with Hasenhuttl
Sky Sports’ Dan Sansom:
“You have to accept that we will have 10 to 15 defeats per season.”
Those were the words of Ralph Hasenhuttl when I spoke to him at the Southampton training ground on Friday.
Two days later, a 4-1 thrashing by Newcastle at St Mary’s saw him lose his job as manager.
Southampton find themselves in the relegation zone after 14 games. Sunday’s defeat was already their eighth in the Premier League this season.
Hasenhuttl had been accustomed to pressure during his time on the south coast. Two 9-0 defeats and several bad runs since the Austrian’s appointment in December 2018 have meant his position has been questioned on several occasions. But the 55-year-old always seemed to bounce back.
However, a six-game losing streak in nine Premier League games after £83million was spent this summer – mostly on young players – has seen Southampton’s hierarchy run out of patience.
“Southampton are a team fighting for their life. Unless they improve by being more aggressive and willing to take one for the cause, they go down,” said former Saints boss Graeme Souness . sky sports.
Southampton didn’t want to take that risk with Hasenhuttl still in charge.