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Can Mark Hughes march the Saints away from the drop?

With just one win in their past 17 league matches, today talks have commenced between the club and former Stoke City, QPR and Manchester City boss Mark Hughes over the vacant role.

Southampton’s 3-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Newcastle United was Mauricio Pellegrino’s last game in charge of Southampton before being sacked on Monday.

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Danny Higginbotham explained his confusion last night on Sky Sports News over the sacking of Claude Puel last summer. “I don’t understand the dismissal of Puel last season. Okay, he didn’t play the most attractive style of football but they finished eighth and ran Manchester United close in the League Cup final.”

The former Saints defender was signed back in 2003 for a fee of £1.5 million and helped the side to the FA Cup Final the same year.

It’s fair to say Southampton fans are more than entitled to be disappointed with their league position this season, as well the club had a poor January transfer window. It’s a distant memory now of Puel steering them to eighth last season and almost winning their first cup final since 1976.

Selling Virgil Van Dijk for £75 million can be a seen as an incredibly smart bit of business, he’s the most expensive defender in history.

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With the Dutch International fetching such a hefty price tag Saints fans must’ve been licking their lips with the money at the clubs disposal. However, as the days of the transfer window ticked by no new faces entered through the door at St. Mary’s.

With just days of the January window left striker Guido Carrillo was announced as the first signing of the window, for a fee in the region of £20 million. The Monaco striker only managed to net 15 times in his 75 appearances for the French side. The window had now closed and there was no notable replacement found for Van Dijk, leaving many fans doubting that Pellegrino was backed by the board.

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Mark Hughes is expected to take the reigns, Skybet have the Welshman as low as 1/8 to be named as Pellegrino’s successor. If Hughes is to take charge, it will take something special to steer the Saints away from the relegation zone, they lie just one point outside the drop zone.

With just nine games remaining in the Premier League this season Saints welcome Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City to St. Mary’s as well as an away trip to former boss Claude Puel’s Leicester.

Southampton have just five wins to their name this season, the second worst in the division. However, they have 13 draws this season, two more than any other side (West From). If Mark Hughes is to be appointed as the new boss, this will be something he will look at immediately, turning these draws into wins.

The one bright light at the end of the tunnel for Southampton is that they are still in the FA Cup, it’s been made clear by the club that they want a new man in before the next fixture in the quarter-finals against Wigan Athletic this weekend. With it being a season since Southampton were last in the Europa League, if the new appointment can juggle keeping the side above the drop zone, winning the FA Cup could be the gold at the end of the tunnel for Saints fans.

 

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