Back on March 12 last year, Premier League strugglers Southampton had announced that they had parted company with manager Mauricio Pellegrino after just eight months in charge.
The 47-year-old succeeded Claude Puel in the St Mary’s hotseat following the Frenchman’s sacking in the summer of 2017 – this all despite the Saints recording another top half finish in the Premier League, and indeed reaching the EFL Cup final under the now-Leicester City manager’s stewardship.
And it was up to former Valencia and Alavas manager Pellegrino to come in and bring the excitement back to St Mary’s, only to last 34 games before eventually losing his job in March last year, much to the delight of several Southampton supporters…
3 months too late I reckons
— Ryan (@ryanmaffo69) March 12, 2018
Should have been reading this tweet 3 months ago but thank you
— Chris Wragg (@chriswragg) March 12, 2018
15 games too late!
— H A R R Y (@HarryDWMC) March 12, 2018
Liked the man personally but was tactically was dreadful. Should have changed manager at Xmas. However all the blame should not be put on the manager, the board must explain themselves to fans on why they made so many wrong decisions #SaintsFC
— Scott Vidler (@TheDancingBug) March 12, 2018
— Stu Meech (@stumeech) March 12, 2018
— Joe. (@WardPrxwse) March 12, 2018
#saintsfc I feel a weight has lifted from my Shoulders. I feel more optimistic, goodness knows why. We’ve only 8 Games to stay up. Hope this action has not been taken too late in the day. Still, feeling so much happier at the moment. Onwards and Upwards
— Saintjeff (@saintjeff52) March 12, 2018
WERE ALL HAVING A PARTY WERE ALL HAVING A PARTY
— Billy (@BillyMcCall_) March 12, 2018
— Steve Armstrong (@SArmstrong58) March 12, 2018
And given just how woeful Southampton were under Pellegrino, alongside the fact that Mark Hughes just about had enough time to keep them in the Premier League, the club certainly made the right and much-needed call to part with the Spaniard, even if it could and perhaps should have been done sooner.
Ultimately, the 47-year-old came into a football club that had finished in the top ten of the Premier League in each of their previous four seasons, although the negative style of football played under predecessor Puel was heavily criticised by Saints fans – they eventually got their wish with his departure in the summer of 2017.
And they would have been hoping that Pellegrino was the forward-thinking manager they wanted to bring exciting and fast-flowing football back to St Mary’s, only for the 47-year-old to do the complete opposite and seriously struggle throughout his time in charge.
They didn’t make a particularly bad start, winning three and losing just three of their opening ten league games, but things began to go downhill following an impressive 4-1 success over struggling Everton on November 26, as the Saints then failed to win any of their succeeding 12 league matches, a run that plummeted them towards danger.
A 3-2 success at West Brom at the start of February gave Pellegrino some breathing space, but two draws and two defeats after that, including an embarrassing display in a 3-0 loss at Newcastle United, saw the Spaniard eventually relieved of his duties, eight games before the end of the season and with Southampton sat 17th in the Premier League table.
Arguably, as plenty of Saints fans note above, the 47-year-old could and perhaps should have been sacked a lot sooner given things rarely improved under the Spaniard – quite simply, Pellegrino was out of his depth and never looked like taking Southampton forward.
As it happened, he was taking them down but for the board’s interference, with former Stoke City boss Hughes coming in and steering the club away from danger in winning two and drawing two of their last eight games of the season – it was a narrow escape, and one they were quite fortunate to get away with.
Ultimately, the club’s reluctance to part with Pellegrino earlier in the season almost cost them hugely last season, with Hughes given just enough time to turn things around and keep the club in the Premier League.
But they did in the end make that much-needed decision to get rid of the Spaniard, a call that ultimately paved the way for the club to just about retain its top-flight status.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!