Posted on March 15th, 2018
EIGHT games to go in the Premier League and Southampton have played their final card in a bid to stay in England’s top flight.
Out goes Manager Mauricio Pellegrino after just nine months in charge and in comes Mark Hughes, a former Southampton player, until the end of the season. His remit is simple, keep Southampton in the Premier League! If you think he will achieve this task, go to sports betting for the best odds on who you think will take the dreaded drop to the Championship.
Sitting just a point above the drop zone after a horrendous run of one league win in 17 games, Southampton’s position is precarious and last weeks disappointing 3-0 loss to fellow relegation contenders Newcastle forced the board to axe the Argentine. With a win rate of just 16.7% in his 30 League games, it was difficult to build a case to keep faith with Pellegrino, who is the ninth man to lose his job in the unforgiving world of the modern day Premier League.
Southampton fans must be wondering why the club chose to axe predecessor Claude Puel in favour of Pellegrino. Puel led the club to the League Cup Final and to a respectable eighth position in the table, but was sacked after just that one season. He’s since went to Leicester City and taken them comfortably away from the relegation battle, sitting nine places ahead of the club who binned him. He may have been defensive in his tactics but Puel got results, something that couldn’t be said of his successor who looked as though he was taking Saints into the Championship.
In Hughes, they’ve got a manager with bags of experience having previously been at Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR and Stoke City. At Stoke, he had overseen three consecutive ninth place finishes and 13th last season before things got stale and he was sacked in January following a shock FA Cup defeat to League Two Coventry City. Not that Stoke have prospered since they let the Welshman go as they sit in the relegation places going into the last eight games.
Southampton need Hughes to get the best out of the squad quickly if they are to avoid dropping into the relegation places, and he has an FA Cup Quarter Final at Wigan to start his short tenure. Victory over the League One side is essential to get the ball rolling in terms of rebuilding confidence in a squad who’ve lost the winning habit, and they’ll hope that confidence from a win will carry over to the League, where survival is viewed as more important than another Cup Final. It won’t be easy against a side who shocked everyone by ousting Manchester City in the last round, and another famous Wigan win would be a major setback for Sparky after only one match as it could have a detrimental knock-on effect on their already stuttering League form.
Hughes has a good record of keeping sides in the top flight having never being relegated as a manager, the primary reason why Saints have brought him to St Mary’s. This is, potentially, his biggest challenge to get his players motivated in just eight games to preserve their top flight status.
With just ten points separating 19th and ninth, there are ten teams who could still go down and the pressure is on for managers to ensure their club doesn’t leave the land of golden honey, where financial stakes are enormous.
Mark Hughes will be hoping he can give Southampton the spark they need to halt their alarming slide and keep themselves in the Premier League for a seventh consecutive season.