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Do Saints Fans Still Have Faith In Mark Hughes ?
Tuesday, 30th Oct 2018 10:57

There is something missing in the Saints play and some would say it is something that only the manager can give, are Saints getting no spark from Sparky ? Read our thoughts and then vote in our poll.

In the recent year or so The Ugly Inside has come in for some criticism because we try to look at things rationally rather than throw knee jerk reactions into the fray, we are not afraid to stand up and call it how we see it rather than just write what people want to read, we try to inform and challenge people's perceptions and look for the real issues and then solutions, as the lynch mob again starts to form outside St Mary's this time for Mark Hughes, we try and see it from all sides.

You can see why Mark Hughes got the Saints job permanently, there was a burst of euphoria around St Mary's after what had looked like an unlikely great escape from relegation, but was that enough to warrant the Welshman being appointed on a full time basis, performances both this seasons and indeed last might suggest otherwise.

The board were in a difficult position, two years ago they had bowed to fan pressure with Claude Puel, on the surface those not connected with Saints would look at that season and wonder why Puel had been sacked after an 8th place finish and taking the club to an appearance in a major cup final at Wembley.

Statistically it could be argued that this was in the top six of any season in the club's history given that we have only won one trophy and in the modern era this was only our 4th appearance in a cup final.

But the supporters were complaining that they were not being entertained, that Puel's style was boring and season tickets were not renewed in droves forcing the club to bow to pressure, in fairness to Puel there were mitigating circumstances, he arrived to find his Captain demanding a move and that was followed by his leading scorer being injured in early December only to return for the final couple of games and then his best player and defender getting injured meaning we had to play players in central defence that had been 4th & 5th choice the previous season.

Perhaps Puel was judged too harshly, but he had to go as the fans had turned against him more than any manager since Ian Branfoot.

Mauricio Pellegrino was a disaster, the club went again for a coach rather than a manager and he was not up to the job, although it has to be said he too had the issues with Van Dijk and again an injury to Charlie Austin.

So this summer the board took the easy option with Mark Hughes, he was the fans choice, not overwhelmingly but a clear favourite, the cry on social media was for the next manager to be experienced and a leader and not a continental coach that nobody had heard of, it is not surprising that the board went for Hughes and not what had previously been the Southampton Way of looking for coaches after all Pochettino was unheard of when Les Reed earmarked him and make no mistake about it whatever the PR at the time said it was Reed and his team, if you are one minute a financial advisor in Switzerland you do not suddenly become the best picker of managers and players in the country.

But did Hughes really deserve the job ?

The evidence perhaps points to the contary, Saints didn't storm to a great escape coming from behind, when Hughes took over Saints had played 30 games and were 4th from bottom on 28 points and average of .94 a game, Swansea were on 31, Stoke on 27 and West Brom on 20.

By the end of the season we had gained only another 8 points, a points ratio of a point a game, but not exactly much better than Pellegrino had achieved, indeed if not for a handball inexplicably not spotted by the referee at Watford then the former manager would have had exactly the same ratio.

But Saints staying up was not down to our own endeavours as has been shown, West Brom had the best record of the bottom 4 , they gained 11 points from their final 8 games, but what kept Saints up was the fact that Hughes former club Stoke gained only 6, 3 of those in their final game when they were already down and Swansea only two points from their final 8 games.

This perhaps shows that what kept Saints in the Premier League was not so much our own form, but the failure of Stoke or Swansea, especially Swansea to do any better.

But the euphoria swayed the fans and it swayed the board, yes Hughes on paper had saved us, but the reality was that we were really no better than under Pellegrino, except for the final few games when the players own Adrenalin kicked in and they battled for pride, those who remember the 90's will understand what I mean.

But this season has been no better, we hoped that Hughes as the permanent manager and with time to build his squad and not having to press the panic button would be able to restore us to a comfortable position in the Premier league, but that has not been the case, the points per game ratio is 0.7 per game and that is just not acceptable.

Perhaps he has not been helped by the signings, of the 3 outfield players signed, none have truly impressed and looked Premier League material, that is not all Hughes fault, but he had a say in their signing.

But the truth of the matter Hughes himself seems unable to know either his best team or to get the best out of players.

From a selection problem, we are seeing certain players be in the side and then not even get on the bench for a while and then be back in favour, Hughes seems to keep the basis of the same side week in week out, but cannot seem to decide who are the best options for 2 or 3 key position.

Hughes choices of substitutes vary widely and are sometimes baffling, why did he need two central defenders on the bench against Newcastle, one would have sufficed also his changes are often too little too late and have cost us late goals.

So all in all there are few people that feel that Hughes himself is doing a good job so far this season, the best that you can find amongst the supporter base are those who feel that he has not yet had enough time and needs a little more.

I can concur a little with that view, but there does come a time when he has had his chance, the counter argument would be that as he was here last season Hughes has had 18 games in charge, almost half a season, of those games we have gained only 15 points, the points ratio is getting worse not better.

The only thing keeping us out of the bottom three is the fact that there are four teams who are quite a lot worse than in other seasons, usually there is one very poor side this year there are three maybe four, but we can't rely on that going forward, indeed in any other season we would be adrift of safety by some margin given our current points total.

So the fans faith in Hughes is fading, it will be a free hit at Manchester City on Sunday in that a defeat won't really be down to him, but the crunch comes with the Watford game, win that and we move into mid table, lose it and we are truly in trouble.

The board now need to lead from the front, the problem is that to sack Mark Hughes will be to admit to failure in selecting our last three managers and this is down to Les Reed, he is the director in charge of footballing matters, it is fine to drag Ralph Krueger into the mix, but essentially Krueger does not know enough about football to make these decisions, this is not his job and that in itself is a problem.

Les Reed would want to give Hughes all the chances he can to get things right and pull clear, after all if he sacks him then he is basically admitting that he has now erred three times in a row and this is where Krueger does become culpable, his job is to oversee all the departments in the football club and make sure they perform to the required standard, sack Hughes and Krueger has to look very closely at Reed and his role in the last two years.

I still believe that Saints have the basis of a good squad they are better than their position suggests, however that spark is missing and the big question is whether Mark Hughes is the man to find it and inject it into the team, on Saturday Saints handled fairly easily a Newcastle squad who played for their manager but just aren't good enough, we need our players to play with this enthusiasm, with the fearless play of Bournemouth, but we are not doing so, this comes from the manager, its not happening and in football when things are going wrong something has to be changed !

What are your thoughts on Mark Hughes, vote now in our online poll using the link below.!/polls/2163/do-you-s

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legod7 added 12:06 - Oct 30
If WBA had put Darren Moore ( instead of Pardew ) in charge after they sacked Tony Pulis then they would probably have finished above Saints

mgprobert added 12:15 - Oct 30
We got lucky at the end of last year. Mark Hughes gave the team a kick up the backside and Swansea imploded just at the right time. We should be thankful to Hughes for that but now move on, his records isn't great and he was a whisker away from taking two teams down in a season! He should not have been given the job this season but its very easy to see why the board did so - it was the easy option after making a mistake with the two previous managers. Saints should change now, to give the new manager time, and a couple of changes in the team in January (out and in)

bstokesaint added 12:58 - Oct 30
I don’t think Hughes is totally culpable. Arguably he did earn his chance to manage us after saving us the season before, and with his experience you’d have definitely expected him to do better. As has been the case for the last three managers I was hoping he’d be a good fit. I just worry that if we get rid of yet another manager we’re going to look an even bigger joke. And who are we going to get at this point of the season who thinks they can turn this team around? I used to think this squad wasn’t too bad either, but on reflection our central defence is a massive weak point and we’ve got no-one who can score. On that basis it’s hard to see us surviving really.

Personally I think nothing short of a large-scale overhaul at the highest level will change anything. Our recruitment has been poor over the past few seasons. Plus what is our new owner doing exactly? Nick, you mention he’s done nothing wrong, but that misses the point somewhat. What has he done right exactly? He’s supposed to be making it possible for us to “push on”. I’d love to see a TUI piece which actually does a deep dive on Gao the man. Who is he? And why did he buy into the club? What are his visions? He’s not going to win any fans being a shrinking violet in the background of this mess.

BoondockSaint added 13:02 - Oct 30
I am not confident in Hughes, but you could bring in Pep, Jose, Rafa, Howe, Wagner, and anybody else you can name, and they would still wind up standing on the sidelines shaking their heads when Long or Austin missed a sitter.

The main problem is the quality of players and until that is addressed, we will get no quality manager to even think about coming here. As of right now, Saints look like a managerial graveyard.

SanMarco added 13:07 - Oct 30
Good article summing up the main points very well although us critics are being accused of a very, very long knee-jerk reaction!!

The manager is always the fall-guy and forms the protective shield for the likes of Les Reed. Things go wrong: sack the manager even if is not his fault, repeat the process if the replacement doesn't work. Once you have got through two quickly you are on thin ice with the third. If Hughes is no good then Reed is no good, full-stop.

Is there a manager out there who could get this squad performing well? That's the question. I am no great fan of Hughes as a manager but I believe it has been haphazard and complacent decision-making by Reed that has led to our problems.

dirk_doone added 13:09 - Oct 30
The underlying problem lies with the people choosing the managers and players: Ross Wilson and Les Reed. Everyone they appoint seems to be worse than the previous one so even if they sack Hughes they'll still probably manage to find someone even worse.


2015/16 63 pts
2016/17 46 pts
2017/18 36 pts
2018/19 28-32 pts ??

Until Reed and Wilson are replaced the club's decline is unlikely to be reversed.

A1079 added 13:10 - Oct 30
bstokesaint sums it up really. I have never had faith in Hughes so it is not a question as to whether I still have. Arguably he did keep us up and he was a man at the time, but other factors really helped in our last ditch survival, most noticeably Swansea imploding at the worst possible time for them and just in time for us.

I could understand why he was retained, though I ideally wanted someone like Howe. But, the trouble is, retaining Hughes or bringing someone else in was only ever going to be a sticking plaster as the issues are much wider and deeper and unless the board were prepared to put them right (which clearly they were not) then whoever took the job then and even now would face an unenviable task. It is possible that a new face would provide some impetus but again it could be another sticking plaster. That said, Hughton and Howe and Dyche have shown that with fairly mediocre quality in the teams you can still get them to play and believe and deliver enough to enable them to challenge. I don't believe Hughes can do that.

I appreciate that many disagree with my views on the board at the top, but whilst I am not in a position to know what effort and time and commitment they apply to the club, and they may be very genuine and sincere, it is not apparent in their actions outwardly and therefore, they are either making bad decisions, not in a position to make the decisions that are required to bring our club back on course or have accepted a certain strategic model, which does not belong in the PL.

landerwal added 13:25 - Oct 30
In the Premiership- We have only SCORED more goals than our opponents at home once in the last year. We have not SCORED in our last six games. Only one team have SCORED less than us this season. Three out of our first team strikers have not SCORED at all. Last Saturday morning we were the 5th highest team in the league for creating SCORING chances. The problem is and as it has been for the past two seasons as well is not our defence or midfield, but our useless forwards. In the past we have had a Lambert, Beatie, Pelle , Le Tiss.etc No longer. If we do not get someone who has something of their abilities we are in big trouble. My opinion has always been, the club should bite the money bullet and buy big. I have heard it rumoured that Baca will let Messi go as long as it is not to a top club. We can dream!!!

ChristchurchSaint added 14:12 - Oct 30
Will agree with most that he is not the man for the job, BUT as others have said, the rot has started from the top down, not the bottom up. Please Gao, sell up to somebody who wants us as a football club not a business, sack Mr “Small club “ Krueger and Messrs Reed and Wilson, and give somebody the chance to get us back to where we were a few years ago.

saintlee added 14:23 - Oct 30
The ugly inside try to look at things rationally and as a fanzine you probably should do but at the end ofvthe day its only mostly yours and Clives opinion. This doesnt necessarily mean youre right all the time and just because some fans dont agree with you this doesnt necessarily mean that we are happy clappers and we dont know what we are talking about. The figures speak for themselves.
In my opinion Hughes should never have been given the job permanantly. Yeah he kept us up but the board took the easy route yet again by giving him a 3 year contract. After what he did at Stoke last season this beggars belief. He is not the way forward for our club, never was. So who should we have got? I dont know because wiser men than me are privvy to such information. All I know is it shouldnt have been Mark Hughes.

Sanguin added 14:54 - Oct 30
The problem is the same one that we had under Puel and under Pellegrino. A lack of goals and a lack of chances converted. Given changing the manager hasn’t solved that problem in the past, I’m not confident it will again.

At least the football we’re watching is more exciting. Players like Redmond and Lemina are electric at the moment.

Toussaint added 15:33 - Oct 30
Gary Monk

leighsaint added 16:03 - Oct 30
Why is it when I watch saints they seem to flag after about 70 minutes. I watched Man City last night they where it seems still running and passing right until the final whistle. Are saints as fit we know not as gifted but they seem to me to lack the fire and enthusiasm and fitness of the top teams. There is no togetherness and team spirit from an awful lot of them. There are no leaders just a lot of sheep.

davidargyll added 16:14 - Oct 30
Of course Hughes has to go. Can anyone honestly see Saints playing any better as the season goes on under him? And all the while we are relying on other teams playing worse. But just supposing Necastle et al have a strange game, a decent bit of luck, and a couple of decisions that go their way and hey ho we are in the bottom three. And guess what? Hughes will be out. So why delay? We all know he's a rubbish manager - as I have pointed out before, look at his record as a manager on Wikipedia - we just don't want to have to admit it so soon. But then look at Real Madrid...149 days Lopetegui lasted; Hughes 230 so far; who's got it right then...?

Braveheart added 17:01 - Oct 30
Although I feel that MH is not fit for purpose, he should have the balls to shake the team up. If he has been governed up to now by Les Reed then he should also have the balls to get that monkey off his back. This by shaking up the first team and dropping most of them, not even naming them in the matchday squad. We have plenty of fringe players that can do a better job than them. Perhaps then the current squad of no hopers will get up off their arses and start earning the pay they don't deserve. Bournemouth are scoring goals for fun, Pompey are top of their league, why?

highfield49 added 17:25 - Oct 30
Supposing Hughes gets the sack then, as many have pointed out already, who do you replace him with? The job isn't attractive to those who could turn things around and the managers who are available have already been sacked for their failure at other clubs. The thought isn't one that fills me with any real enthusiasm but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Sam Allardyce and Sammie Lee were in place before Christmas.

bstokesaint added 17:39 - Oct 30
On my earlier mention of Dear Mr Gao too,

Heads will be falling soon...

KriSaint added 11:37 - Nov 4
I am leaning towards thinking that we - first of all - need a new chair man and vice chair man. Some say "bring Nicola back", Yeah, but I didn´t like the way he treated Adkins and Benali, so it´s a no for me...
I know this is only wishful thinking but Le Tiss as vice chairman would be nice. That would warm the hearts of us fans.
All the fuzz about Leicester´s tragic loss of their chairman reminds me of how much I miss Marcus Liebherr...

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