Who can save Southampton’s season?

The managerial merry-go-round swung into action last night as Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked by Southampton.

Pellegrino had only won five of his 30 Premier League games in charge and he leaves Southampton in 17th place in the table just one point outside the relegation zone. After an abysmal performance in the 3-0 defeat away to Newcastle, the Southampton board relieved Pellegrino of his position.

Whoever takes on the job has the task of not only steering the club away from relegation danger, but to appease frustrated fans. Southampton have moved away from managerial appointments who played a fast and exciting brand of football to a slower, possession-based style. From Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman to Claude Puel and Pellegrino, the two most recent managers haven’t produced the football Saints fans had become accustomed to.
By changing managers at this point in the season the options to take the reins are very narrow. Southampton have stated they want a manager with Premier League experience but with their position in the league table, they will find it hard to attract a manager already in a job. So, who are the candidates?

The early bookies favourite and reported leading candidate is Mark Hughes. Hughes, who played for Southampton at the back end of his career, would certainly provide the Premier League experience needed to steer Saints away from the trapdoor. ‘Sparky’, however, has previously been sacked at his past two managerial jobs due to poor league positions. Despite Hughes leading QPR to safety at the end of the 2011/12 season, he was dismissed in November 2012 as Rangers were rock bottom of the Premier League.

Despite recording three consecutive 9th place finishes at Stoke City from 2013-2017, Hughes was sacked in January of this year after a run of five defeats in seven Premier League games, leaving Stoke in the Premier League.
Hughes has had successful spells at Blackburn Rovers and Fulham. He guided Rovers from Premier League safety to the UEFA Cup and recorded an eighth place finish at Craven Cottage.

The second favourite to replace Pellegrino at St Mary’s Stadium is former Hull City and Watford manager Marco Silva. Silva reignited a Hull side destined to relegation last season but couldn’t manage to keep the Tigers in the division. Despite relegation, Silva’s did an admirable job at Hull by taking the relegation race to the second to last week of the season.

Silva was appointed Watford manager in the summer and started life well at Vicarage Road. Losing only once in his opening eight games including a victory against Arsenal and a draw to Liverpool, Silva was proving the promise he showed at Hull. However, interest in the vacant Everton job seemingly turned his head and Watford lost 12 from the next 14.

It’s being reported that Southampton will not look at Marco Silva to replace Pellegrino and perhaps previous experiences of Pochettino and Koeman leaving for other Premier League clubs put them off as they won’t want Silva to follow suit.

Former West Ham manager, Slaven Bilic, is also being tipped for the vacancy. Bilic guided West Ham to a 7th placed finish during the 2015/16 Premier League season in the Hammers’ last season at Upton Park. Bilic oversaw the move to the Olympic Stadium and recorded a respectable 11th place finish. Despite the 7th and 11th place finishes, results during this season worsened and Bilic was sacked and replaced by David Moyes in November 2017. Like Hughes, Bilic would provide the Premier League experience the Southampton board are after, but due to West Hams demise his season, may avoid appointing him.

Mark Hughes is the frontrunner to take over on the South Coast and the Welshman may be appointed by the weekend as Southampton want a man in place ahead of their FA Cup quarter final against Wigan on Sunday.

Leave a Comment