• Owner Katharina Liebherr reshapes Saints management
• Former Blackburn Rovers chairman set to be chief executive
Katharina Liebherr is ready to appoint Ralph Krueger, a Canadian-born former professional ice hockey player and coach, to her reshaped management structure at Southampton.
The club's owner, who parted company with the chairman, Nicola Cortese, last week, spoke at a meeting of all non-playing staff at St Mary's Stadium on Monday morning, at which she offered reassurance relating to her commitment.
Liebherr told staff that her family, who have controlled Southampton since 2009, would not sell. She added that Mauricio Pochettino retained her full support and the manager would not have to offload any players that he did not want to during the transfer window. She was applauded when she finished speaking.
Liebherr is seeking a chief executive to replace Cortese and she is expected to turn to the former Blackburn Rovers chairman John Williams, who hails from Totton in Southampton. Williams left Blackburn in 2011 and he enjoyed a spell as a Manchester City executive. He has remained in football as the chairman of the referees' body, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited.
Liebherr, who has taken on the role of non-executive chairwoman at Southampton, is keen to have greater involvement at the club and, in addition to the new chief executive, she will hand-pick at least three aides to help her in all areas of the business.
One of them is Krueger, 54, a German citizen, who played ice hockey in Germany before moving into coaching, most notably with the Switzerland men's national team and the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL. He will be a consultant to the Canada team at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, after which he will begin his work in earnest at Southampton. He was present at Monday's staff meeting.
Krueger is known for his motivational speaking career, in which he explores the elements necessary to build a high-performance team. He places team spirit above individual success and he details the philosophy in his autobiographical self-help book, Teamlife: From Failure to Success.
Liebherr made no mention of Cortese in her address to staff, with the emphasis being on the need to look forward. Her relationship with Cortese broke down after he resisted her attempts to gain representation to the board. To the owner of any business, that situation would appear intolerable.
Cortese hired Pochettino – the pair are close – and his departure led the manager to consider his future. Pochettino said last Thursday that he would continue until the end of the season before assessing his options regarding the final year on his contract.