Tom Victor: Animals v TV Detectives – The Ralph Hasenhuttl Derby

Ralph Hasenhuttl gives us the chance to investigate one of football's burning questions: could a team with animal names beat a team of fictional cops?

Ralph Hasenhuttl Southampton

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As Ralph Hasenhüttl prepares to take on Arsenal in his first Premier League home game, much has been made of the new Southampton manager’s surname.

Hassenhüttl translates as “rabbit hutch”, and has subsequently been described by one observer as the first Premier League manager named after an animal dwelling since Frank Burrows left West Brom.

But what if we’ve got it all wrong? What if it’s not ‘rabbit hutch’, but rather ‘rabbit Hutch’; an anthropomorphic detective in what we’ll describe from here on in as a ‘Bunny Cop movie’?

It got us thinking, who would win in a football match between players who share their names with animals, and those who share theirs with fictional police officers and detectives?

We’ve come up with two teams, but we’ve restricted it to six-a-side rather than full XIs because everyone knows 90-minute cop show episodes tend to drag.

Cops: Joe Hart, Cedric, Charlie Daniels, Sam Morsy, Sixto Peralta, Grant Holt (c)

The police team will have a stern back-line, with the Cedric-Daniels axis taking no nonsense from anyone. The pair are a commanding presence, helping ensure any game they play will go right down to The Wire.

Peralta is the wildcard in the middle of the park, having failed to make much of an impact in English football during his time with Ipswich Town, but if we know one thing about Peralta it’s that he can be spurred to perform better when in the presence of Captain Holt.

When looking for a final member of this squad, we didn’t feel the need to be too specific – someone who’s a little bit like a TV detective but not exactly the same. Someone who was a bit… Morsy, for example.

In goal? Joe Hart, or Marty to his friends. Joe already isn’t his real first name so no one can stop us from making another change.

Marc McNulty and Matt Tubbs are stuck on desk duty, or the bench as it’s more traditionally known.

Animals: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Mark Fish, Razvan Rat, Lee Cattermole, Ruel Fox, Shaun Goater

Things will go swimmingly for the animal XI, with Fish taking to his new task line an, ahem, Fish to water. He will surely be helped out more than ably by the presence of not one but two animals in front of him, in the form of Lee Cattermole.

Pace on the flanks will be provided by Ruel Fox on the right, with Razvan Rat scampering up and down the left touchline as he attempts to sink his teeth into the opposition.

They’ll have to make sure they’ve got enough food with them when they take to the field, though, as there’s no way for the Goat to thrive unless he is properly fed. Of course, that leaves us able to cover multiple bases on the bench by including a Bull in Wolves clothing. Steve Bull, to be precise.

In goal, our hands were tied by the inclusion of Hart on the other side, so we’ve plumped for Leeds goalkeeper Peacock-Farrell. He might only be half-animal and half-England rugby player, but he knows how to stand out and make himself look big.

We did consider including nicknames like Alexandre Pato (Duck), Roberto ‘Pato’ Abbondanzieri (Duck) and Paulo Henrique Ganso (Goose), but it felt like a childish game.

The Game

We’re envisaging a hard-fought contest, with both sides displaying great teamwork and threatening to put the other side to the sword from the first whistle.

There’s very little to choose between the two, and they’ll likely be separated by the narrowest of margins come full-time – it could even take a small slice of luck or an act of God to help out edge out the other.

Oh, you meant the Southampton v Arsenal game? Arsenal will trounce them. Have you not seen Southampton play this season? They’ve got no chance.

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