Following the exciting spells of Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman at St. Mary’s, the Southampton hierarchy knew what they wanted in the summer and it wasn’t Claude Puel.
Despite guiding the Saints to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League and a League Cup final, Puel was dismissed as manager after just one year in the job, largely down to the fact that his side were dull and boring to watch, especially at home where they struggled to find the net.
A broad managerial search turned up Mauricio Pellegrino, a Rafa Benitez disciple, which itself would ring alarm bells as Benitez sides have always been built on strong, resolute defences rather than expansive, free-flowing, attacking football.
Not even halfway through November and fans are already beginning to turn on Pellegrino in the same way they revolted against Puel towards the end of his tenure.
Through 11 games, Southampton find themselves in a clustered lower mid-table, winning just three games and scoring just nine goals – not the end product the fans and decision makers are looking for. Next up for Southampton is a trip to Liverpool, and check these tips out if you’re betting on football.
While much of the summer transfer window was spent fending off the advances of Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk, Pellegrino, Les Reed and the recruitment team neglected to address the issue of finding a striker.
What may have blinded their judgement is the flash in the pan that was Manolo Gabbiadini. After scoring six goals in his opening four games for the club, he’s found the net just three times in his last 20 appearances for Southampton.
His supporting cast, Shane Long and Charlie Austin, have also been shy of goals since the start of last season, netting a combined 10 goals in 65 appearances, with Austin netting the sole goal this season between them and Long himself hasn’t scored since February, a run of 30 games for club and country without finding the net.
With new owners on board, Pellegrino must turnaround his side’s fortunes in front of goal and sharpish if he has any ambition to be the club’s manager beyond this season – that is if he makes it through the campaign. He’s 20/1 to be sacked next according to this bet checker.
So recruiting a striker in the January transfer window is an absolute must, but the names being linked with the Saints are players that aren’t at the level that they require.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is a reported target of Southampton’s but he doesn’t inspire many. Having fallen out of favour with Rafa Benitez following a dangerous elbow on Manuel Lanzini back in August which resulted in a suspension, the Serbian has made just one other appearance this season in the Premier League.
In the Championship last season, he struggled with the demands of the league and only had a return of three goals from his 25 appearances as Newcastle were crowned Champions. Not really the type of player Southampton can hang their hat on.
A 33-year-old Fernando Torres who is well past his best before date is also being touted for a move to St. Mary’s. Pellegrino was a coach at Liverpool during the Spaniard’s time at Anfield but he’s clearly not a long-term solution.
Pellegrino can’t be looking for a quick fix in front of goal for the sake of his long-term future, otherwise the club themselves will be looking for a quick fix from the mess they continue to find themselves in.