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Are Mark Hughes Days Numbered
Wednesday, 21st Nov 2018 10:57

The media are full of reports that if Saints lose to Fulham then Mark Hughes will be sacked, perhaps they are just speculating but the reality is that win lose or draw on Saturday Hughes is walking a fine line.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at the results of Southampton Football Club and work out that Mark Hughes is a man under pressure, defeat at Craven Cottage on Saturday could plunge Saints into the bottom three and the alarm bells will start to ring louder than ever in the Saints boardroom..

Although results have picked up in the last four Premier League games in terms of there being only one defeat and that being at Manchester City was almost expected, but there is far more evidence against Hughes than for him.

Unlike say Mauricio Pellegrino who came in at the start of a season Hughes has now been in charge for 20 League games over half a season and he has a grand total of only 3 wins and 16 points, a ratio of only 0.80 points per game overall.

This season it is even worse and he has accrued only 0.66 points per game and somewhere along the line this has to change even under Hughes or without him.

Put it another way he has now had over a half a season in charge and even if he improves to his overall ratio that is still only 30 points over a season.

In comparison in his 30 games in charge Pellegrino managed to accrue 28 points, a ratio of .93 a game, again rocket scientist's are not needed to work out that if Pellegrino was not up to standard at that ratio, then why should Hughes be.

Certainly the whisper in the press is that the Fulham game is do or die for him, that the Saints board are well aware that they left it too long in firing Pellegrino and that almost cost them dearly, the Mail claims

"There is acknowledgement behind-the-scenes at Southampton that waiting so long to make a material change was a mistake, even though Hughes eventually kept them up."

"And there is a feeling at St Mary's that they cannot afford Hughes a similar amount of time and are likely to take decisive action significantly sooner if he can not halt their alarming slide down the table."

"Furthermore, Southampton's top-brass believe their squad is far better than their current 17th place position and are therefore concerned Hughes is currently underachieving. "

But the fact that the board are even thinking like this, if indeed they are is perhaps suggesting that whatever happens Hughes days are numbered, after all this is no blip, it runs across two seasons and not a lot has changed.

The Mail also suggests that the firing of Les Reed might have bought Hughes time, I don't quite agree with this in that Reed has paid the price for sticking with Pellegrino for too long,if he had stayed he would have had to back Hughes as sacking him would be damning on Reed's own judgement.

The fact that Reed has gone means that the board can point the finger at Reed and the fact that he has gone and do not have to keep Hughes to try and protect themselves.

The only thing that is perhaps keeping him in the job is that Reed's departure has left a hole in the committee that would appoint a new manager and Krueger would rather have Reed's successor in place to get in the man that he wants.

Saints have given Hughes all the time and resources that he needs and although it cannot be denied that the last transfer window was not great ( I discount last January, we had to make a panic buy and do something, we stayed up to that justifies the expense) but the squad should still have been doing better than it is.

It is still short in key areas notably in the central defensive positions and again Reed failed to deal with that, but there is a spark missing that is present in teams like Bournemouth and Watford and wins them games that we would draw, we are no worse than them, but we don't have that motivation and that has to be down to Hughes.

Reed went safe in appointing Hughes, there was a euphoria in staying up and it was only after that died down that we realised that Hughes didn't as much keep us up as Swansea dropped like a stone.

If Saints draw at Fulham it may buy Hughes a little time, but I feel only enough to allow the board to source his successor, even a win might not be good enough for more than a few weeks grace.

But defeat would surely mean the board would have to act quickly and decisively to change things, at the moment it could be claimed that because the team lacks so much spark, direction & leadership that anyone could pick it and the truth is that if we have to sack Hughes without his successor lined up then it would be down to goalkeeping coach Dave Watson and Kelvin Davis to pick the team unless we go to the academy and bring in Radhi Jaidi, none of these three have any real experience and that is a dilemma for Saints.

By 5pm on Saturday we will either have a little bit of time bought for both Hughes and the board or we will be in crisis.

However better to have that crisis now when there is more than enough time and games to turn things around and get out of it than do as we did last season and leave it to the last 8 games.

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HythePeer added 11:09 - Nov 21
Do you think they will do anything before Reed is replaced?

Darthspud added 11:30 - Nov 21
Get rid asap, appoint O'Neill . he knows how to turn poorly performing teams around and has already a good knowledge of some of the squad.

kenis added 13:30 - Nov 21
O’Neil would be another in the same mould I think. We need a young hungry tactically adept man motivator, or a big name ex player who will get respect from the squad with a savvy older asssitant. (That is of course because Biesla is unavailable)

dirk_doone added 13:56 - Nov 21
As you point out, Nick, our results under Hughes are significantly worse than they were under Pellegrino, which means that if the change of manager had occurred much earlier, we'd have been relegated last season.

A year ago Pellegrino's team beat Everton 4-1 to give us 16 points from our first 13 games. Even if we win at Fulham, we'll only have 11 points and if we lose, we'll have exactly half the number of points we had at the same stage (a third of the way through the season) under Pellegrino.


I'm not saying that Pellegrino was good. He was clearly worse than our previous managers but what is clear is that under Hughes results are worse still.

underweststand added 14:42 - Nov 21
looking at the turnover of managers in the Prem. last season (11 was it?)...I'm surprised that more haven't fallen by the wayside already. MH may well be next unless there is a significant change in form v. Fulham so in that respect maybe his last chance.
Question; is he a poor motivator?....or can we say that for the most part we have the same strike force we had in Claude Puel's time, and both Puel and Pellegrino (as former defenders themselves) put their efforts into bolstering up the defence, whilst patently ignoring an improved attack. Perhaps because Boufal may have been on the Black Box, he got the OK for Les Reed to buy him. Sadly he was a fish out of water.
Signing Carrillo was a last chance for Pellegrino to save the season, but clearly he wasn't mentally prepared for the challenges of the Prem. So back to square one. 4 strikers who are still on long-ish contracts, but find it hard to put the ball in the net. It's easy to sack a a manager, who can't deliver results but not so easy to get rid of players who have long contracts and cost a small fortune to buy and support with £50K /week salaries.

Mark Hughes inherited this squad, and few can believe that any of the summer signings were on his wish list (except maybe Danny Ings). No matter how inspiring the pre-match talk may be, coming off the field having lost points in almost every game is more than simply a confidence issue for whatever team he puts out.

Anything less than 3 points v. Fulham will almost certainly see Hughes' departure, and the arrival of YET ANOTHER manager convinced he can inspire a team that is 7th in the table for shots, but almost the worst for converting them into goals.

Good luck to..." whoever" succeeds him ....they'll need it.


SanMarco added 14:44 - Nov 21
Difficult to argue with Dirk on that. For me the key is having a better replacement lined up. It shouldn't be on one result (as the Everton 4-1 clearly showed). Sack whether win, lose or draw if a good replacement is ready. Does this squad have the quality if the right manager is found - I doubt it, but there is only one way to find out...

SaintBrock added 15:13 - Nov 21
Very doubtful the manager's future depends upon the result of any single game. That makes no business sense at all. What if they then lose the following match. More likely the decision to dump Hughes and his team was taken at the time the decision to sack Reed was taken but the club want the input of a new DoF in the appointment of a new manager before releasing the current one. That is good business sense. It'll take a while longer yet. If Hughes goes now who takes over for the interim period, Jaidi & Davis? Heaven forbid!

Sadly the Club are far too complacent about their chances of recovering from their current plight as their glacier like pace at getting on with things reveals. They seem to think that January is soon enough whereas many of us see it as far too late already.


simmo400 added 15:43 - Nov 21
Hughes isn't good enough. Fulham are going to show us a lesson. Sacked there manager. Put one in place straight away. He's had enough time to re structure the team. I predict a victory for them at our expense. Shame we don't act quicker than we do. Be too late this season very soon.

saintlee added 16:08 - Nov 21
Just because we have some good players doesnt mean that we are a good side. There is no cohesion in our play and we dont move the ball quickly enough. Bourne mouth and Watford do which is why their doing better than us. This can only be down to the manager and the way he wants us to play. We are very hesitant in possesion and little confidence. Go and get the lad from Monaco or Roger Schmit. Good young managers who play attacking exciting football. Hughes should go now regardless of what happens at the cottage on Saturday.

DSM added 17:21 - Nov 21
As a new Danish "member" of The Ugly Inside, I hope You will all excuse the linguistic mistakes I'm gonna make!
It's very difficult to disagree (Saints do have clever fans!), but seen from far away Denmark, the fanbase do seem a tiny bit naïve. It's not just a better manager (than Huges) we need (even though we DO need that), we also need players who are used to winning. We don't need players who dosen't get on the teamsheet in bigger clubs, but good/succesfull players from smaller clubs. I know they are expensive, but every time a big English club buys qualified players from lower ranking ENGLISH clubs, the player seem to end up on your (or others) national team or thereabout (John Stones, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Aaron Cresswell, Nathaniel Clyne, Jamaal Lascelles, Robert Holding, Chris Wood, Jeff Hendrick, Danny Ings, Will Hughes, James McCarthy, Demarai Gray, James Maddison, Jamie Vardy, Lewis Cook, and even Charlie Austin and Nathan Redmond with the right manager, springs to mind).
And why do many of the high profiled players from lower ranked clubs succeed?
They got what it takes!
They are mentally strong, they can put op a fight, and they have been "educated" in a though league, not so different from Premier League.
Therefore we need a manager who isn't blinded by cv's with big clubs on them, but one who will get us succesfull players with balls. I know Eddie Howe isn't comming, but I would personally prefer a young English manager from a smaller club over yet another failiure who has once managed a big club.
Hughes out, but don't replace him with Allardyce or something like that - then we would never get back up!

NYC_Saint added 17:32 - Nov 21
From memory we sacked Pardew after winning 4-0, so there’s precedent if we get a result at Fulham. I’d like to be proved wrong but I think there is an overetimation of the quality of the squad. If you look at the squad there aren’t many “best of the rest” teams that would give a start to anyone outside Ings,Bertrand and (maybe) PEH. More to the point, no one is linked with top 6 lately. I think any manager would look at the squad and think he could stay up with some tinkering and luck, but would want a lot of assurances of investment to improve.

Also for some reason I get the Scottish version of the Daily Mail on newsnow out here and it concluded the story with a like to Rodgers - maybe just to offer a Caledonian slant but I’m not sure it would be popular with a lot of fans...

SanMarco added 17:40 - Nov 21
Martin O'Neill is now available...

DPeps added 17:45 - Nov 21
Re-posting this from an earlier thread, as the points are valid here.

Hughes is clearly part of the problem rather than any sort of solution. He seems incapable of motivating the players, we don't look fit (hence throwing away so many leads), and his team selection and tactics are often wrong.

But, Hughes is one problem among many. Another critical issue is that since we sold Fonte and VVD we have lost any leaders on the pitch. As a result, it's hard to tell if it's Hughes giving rubbish instructions or the fault of the players for not putting these instructions into practice.

To my mind, if we stick with Hughes and this set of players then we're effectively banking on 3 teams being worse. That worked last year, I'm not sure it will this time round. More proactive changes would involve replacing Hughes and/or buying in a true leader on the pitch. But, as others have said, who would want to manage us and who would sign for us?

O'Neill and Keane would probably be an upgrade on Hughes, but I'd rather someone younger and hungrier

DPeps added 17:53 - Nov 21
DSM - welcome aboard. You talk a lot of sense. No problems with your English at all - perhaps you could give lessons to Ralph Krueger?!

saintmark1976 added 18:05 - Nov 21
Right let's sack another manager, after all it's worked so well taking this course of action recently has it not?

Nick, when are you and it appears so many others going to wake up to the fact that our current squad is simply not good enough to compete successfully at Premiership level whoever the manager may be. Responsible for our miserable form over the last fifty two games of which we have only won eight rests with the owners and the club's board, not Mark Hughes. With the players currently on our books it's just not possible to make a silk purse out of a sows ear. I fully expect that due to the ongoing neglect of the owners and the board we will be playing Championship football next season.

DSM added 18:22 - Nov 21
: D Thanks a lot, DPeps! There's so much more I want to say about The Saints (I love the god damned club) and it's situation, so of course my point wasn't a very nuanced one. But then again, I've thought a lot about all the good english footballers we DON'T buy. They ARE expensive, but I'd rahter have one of them than Vestergaard and Højbjerg put together. Danish players do generally NOT have the skills or right mentality.

underweststand added 18:35 - Nov 21
NYC Saint -you seem to have hit the right note, somehting which someof our fsans still can't figure....

There are very few players " left" in our squad likely to be head-hunted by Top 6 clubs.
Having taken the best of what we had, I think they'll now concentrate on Bournemouth ..with Wilson, Fraser and Ake prime targets. It'll be hard for Eddie Howe to keep them.
It's the penalty we pay for being a "less than a big club" (I didn't say small) and we can't compete with clubs for whom £50 million is an average buy ..and who pay £100K a week and more to get their players.

Whoever may eventually replace Mark Hughes will have to soldier on with (more or less ) the same squad we have now, as most of them have long contracts we have to honour and few are likely to attract interested buyers.


dirk_doone added 19:58 - Nov 21
Welcome, DSM. I agree with DPeps. You talk a lot of sense and I too believe that we'd be better off recruiting up and coming players and managers with a recent record of success in the Championship and other 'lesser' European leagues than those with a recent record of failure in the top leagues. It's also interesting to get the Danish view of Vestergaard. I agree with you on that too. He is simply not quick enough or skilful enough for the Premier League. Our club has wasted far too much money in recent transfer windows on players like that.

luffy22 added 20:46 - Nov 21
I don't actually see what anyone is surprised, all the teams he has managed before were glad to get rid of him, he nearly became the first manager to relegate two clubs in one season. He was a complete knob when he played for us, didn't want to be with us then, so what should have changed.

He was good in a good ManU team, but that's about it.

Best thing to do is stick with him now, see the season out and then rebuild. Which league it doesn't matter, just let us get some pride back, and that doesn't happen with swapping managers every 20 games.


Consigliere added 21:01 - Nov 21
I've now read the article in the Daily (Hate) Mail (having obviously first held my nose, turned around three times and made the sign of the evil eye) and it does seem to have some foundation (though it would be a first for that particular gutter-rag). I suspect that the Board will already have taken the decision though and the result at Fulham may not in the end matter all that much, but sacking Hughes will not be sufficient to turn things around even if it is a necessary condition.

Now off to wash my hands and mumble some appropriate curses to ward off the evil spirits that might arise from the lapse of my usual good taste.

DSM added 21:05 - Nov 21
And thank U to you, dirk_doone! Vestergaard seem to think, that attitude alone is enough. Højbjerg is maybe a better choice, but even though he has scored a couple of fine goals this season (and IS a fighter), he is NOT an attacking midfielder! Give him number six and ask him never to move forward (in my humble opinion)!
PS: What's the word on Lallana? He isn't playing, and he is old enough to maybe consider a return. We sure could use his assists!

SaintBrock added 10:40 - Nov 22
You were on a winning streak DSM but beware the L*l*a*a word, it is considered offensive language in English.

benalisbroom added 09:03 - Nov 23

Tisdale doing very well at MK Dons....

warrens76 added 09:26 - Nov 23

In any business if you invest less than your competitors and have no desire to compete with them in a growth market you will fail the only debatable fact is when not if.

No club has a nett investment lower than us over FIVE years running, no club has taken 92 million of player profits and not reinvested every penny and MORE.

How many managers must we go through we 'lost' Roko which along with selling Mane and Pelle handed Puel a poisoned chalice, the fans anger was vented on him when he did not create all his problems, although the alienation of Fonte and the unnecessary changes did no one any favours, as for subbing Gabbi at Wembley that was madness, from then on and the dire performances sealed his fate, he though was not the cause of our problems, Pellegrino extended these inadequacies to horrific levels but again the real problems lay above, what do the board then do, appoint Hughes who had just 'effectively' relegated another team, I mean come on.

I used to love talking tactics albeit with very limited knowledge, discussing the what might have happened if decision xyz had gone our way, or the want of just one clinical finisher to turn almost successful into actually winning something...... though we are so far, far away from a quality team because of a purposefully introduced, short term, get Kat's money out at all costs business model.

Supporting the team becomes increasingly polarised for many as it also keeps in place a loathsome establishment, remember 'together as one'.....that is impossible when the supporters and board are not unified, indeed the players just become the piggy in the middle.

KriSaint added 01:38 - Nov 24
Hey DSM, og velkommen fra en anden dansk Southampton fan, nemlig Kristian fra Furesø Kommune, Nordsjælland :-)
I agree with many statements in this thread, and I don´t have much to add.
I ´d like to say that I am looking forward to see who will captain Saints tomorrow, as Bertrand is serving a one match ban, and neither club captain Steven Davis nor third choice captain Oriol Romeu are expected to start the game.
I see no reason not to hand the arm band to fighter Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who has been one of our (few) decent players this season.

Suffering from desperation to try something different, I´d like to see Gabbiadini & Ward-prowse on the flanks please, and, at long last, see Redmond played as a CENTRAL attacking midfielder (a position from which he got 7 league goals in his first season), supporting 2 "number 9´s" (Ings & Austin) - going for the jugular on the PL´s weakest defence.

My starting 11 (4-2-3-1 formation):
Cedric, Stephens, Yoshida, Targett
Højbjerg (c), Lemina
Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Gabbiadini,
Ings, Austin


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