Equal Time: Southampton must put Mauricio Pellegrino out of his misery
After 30 games in charge at the South coast club, Argentinian manager Mauricio Pellegrino may be wondering how he is still Southampton manager. The Saints, mired in a relegation fight, suffered yet another defeat at the hands of Liverpool on the weekend. Goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah put the home side to the sword. Eight managers have already been sacked this season, the January window has closed, and Crippy Cooke still holds out hope. That said, the club must be decisive in letting the manager go. Otherwise it's likely So'ton will be playing in the Championship in 2018/19.
Pellegrino's appointment came off the back of leading modest Spanish outfit Alaves to a surprising 9th-place finish in La Liga last term, as well as reaching the Copa Del Rey final, which the Babazorros lost to Barcelona 3-1. Those are suitable qualifications for a mid-table Premier League manager. That Southampton sacked Claude Puel after he lifted them to eight on the log and reached the League Cup final, where his side only lost to Manchester United 2-1, was the true surprise.
It's too late for Southampton to get Puel back from Leicester but Pellegrino should be sacked. He doesn't look like lifting them out of danger. In his 30 matches, he has won just 7, drawn 11, and lost 12. Where is the promise in that? Against Liverpool, he cut the figure of a man who knew he may be sacked. When matters are that evident, the club must do the needful.
The Argentinian has failed to kick on from where Puel left off. Meanwhile, the former So'ton boss hasn't skipped a beat at the King Power. The combination leaves too many St Mary's denizens questioning why Puel was let go in the first place.
Southampton no longer play with a recognisable identity. Pellegrino doesn’t have a regular starting eleven. Nor are the players living up to expected standards.
Oriol Romeu, the veteran Spanish midfielder recently stated the manager should not be blamed for the side's bad form, rather he and his teammates should bear the brunt. Loyalty is laudable. Romeu is wrong, however.
Most times, the manager basks in the praise when everything is working. It follows he deserves condemnation when the opposite occurs.
Virgil Van Dijk's situation was headed south (or North) when Pellegrino arrived. Liverpool had already been accused of tapping the player up, withdrawn, then come back in for him. Time and again, the new boss had to field questions about whether the 26-year-old was staying or leaving. He'd have been better off telling the board to let the Dutchman leave and take the dark cloud hanging over the club with him. As it is, he has had to adjust to the belated departure mid-season, and not been able. A proactive stance would probably not see him in these dire straits.
For a club like Southampton, 18th is not good enough. Pellegrino's players don’t look like they believe in his methods. Before the team is dragged further into the bottom three, a new manager is required to spice things up. There are 11 games left in the Premier League season. That's 33 points when half that would see the club safe.
A charismatic manager is needed. The 46-year-old is not that man. He himself may know.