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After Gold medal success at Sochi, former NHL coach Ralph Krueger to start role at Southampton

Feb 25, 2014, 10:12 AM EDT

After coaching the Swiss and Austrian national hockey teams, plus a one-year stint with the Oilers, Krueger has switched hockey for soccer. AP

Southampton have had a terrific season in the Premier League, as the Saints sit in ninth spot and have been impressing with their attractive style and crop of talented teenage sensations.

Off the pitch, there was a little bit of unrest when Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese walked out in January, but since then the club has been stabilized by billionaire owner Katharina Liebherr steeping in as Non-Executive Chairwoman and calming things down considerably.

The German born-Swiss owner has assembled a top backroom staff to help her run Premier League Southampton as she has no previous experience in soccer, with Austrian football agent Josef Lenhart joining as a director. But it was a little strange when it was announced last month that former Edmonton Oilers and Swiss national team hockey coach Ralph Krueger would be joining Southampton.

Know for his hugely successful motivational techniques on both sides of the Atlantic, Krueger has just returned from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as an adviser to the Canadian national hockey team that won Olympic gold. Now the 54-year-old is in Southampton and eager to help Saints move onto the next level alongside Liebherr.

This is what Krueger had to say when interviewed in Sochi, as he insisted he doesn’t want to get involved in the coaching side of things and will instead leave that to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

“Katharina was looking for someone to come in from sport on the leadership side. We’ll look at ways to improve commercially and continue to grow what’s already there. This is the start of a new world for me. I’ve got to come in gently. We don’t need sudden changes of direction. What Mauricio [Pochettino] doesn’t need is someone getting involved day-to-day. He and his staff need space so they can continue to grow the group. I’ve met Mauricio; he’s very honest, a strong personality and he has strong values. I will stay in my place. He should feel comfortable.”

Saints have had a track record of making peculiar appointments when it comes to coaching staff. Back in 2005 when they were first relegated to the English Championship from the Premier League, former England Rugby Union coach Sir Clive Woodward joined on a development role to work with the academy. That didn’t last too long, but it proves that Saints are always thinking outside the box with how to move forward.

Can Krueger be successful after switching the world of ice hockey for soccer? This is going to be very interesting.

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