The date was March 14th 2018. Southampton fans were on edge as they waited to see who would replace the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino, who was sent packing two days previously when the news was announced that Mark Hughes would be taking over at St Mary’s.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) 14 March 2018
When he was appointed, Sparky had been out of a job for just over two months, having been sacked by Stoke City on the 6th January after losing 2-1 away to League Two Coventry in the FA Cup third round. However, that didn’t put the Saints off as they cracked on with giving Hughes the reigns at the club as The Saints sat 17th, dangerously close to the relegation zone with only eight games left to play.
The decision to appoint him looked like an instant disaster when his first three games in the Premier League ended in defeat. A 3-0 defeat away at West Ham followed by back-to-back 3-2 losses to Arsenal and Chelsea piled the pressure on Hughes, but then something miraculous happened, as the Welshman’s complete lack of tactics and cohesion saw them go four games unbeaten, drawing twice and winning twice.
The second win of that four-match spell could not have been much bigger. Away at fellow relegation battling Swansea City, it looked like winner would take all in terms of Premier League survival and when Manolo Gabbiadini bundled the ball over the line it gave Hughes the result he so desperately needed and almost guaranteed that the Saints would survive, which was enough to see Hughes rewarded with a three-year contract extension.
Whilst Hughes had somehow managed to keep The Saints alive and kicking in the Premier League, that really should have been it from Sparky, but the club kept him on. From that decision, they’ve given themselves little chance of staying up again, and already The Saints are in serious trouble this season, sitting just outside of the relegation zone on goal difference with just one win from 12 games this season.
Despite all of that, you can see what the Southampton fans had to say when Hughes was appointed here:
Oh my god why are people complaining already!? Get behind him for god sake we’ve got nothing to lose anyways so might as well have a a crack #COYR
— Thomas O’Neill (@ThomasOneill07) March 14, 2018
Good luck Sparky, welcome to the Saints family pic.twitter.com/L79IxJfBTF
— Art68 (@ArthurCogger) 14 March 2018
— Mark Rossi (@MarkRossi7) March 14, 2018
Welcome Sparky! Now lets create a bit of positivity and get behind the bloke!! #saintsfc
— mighty_SAINTS (@mighty_saints) March 14, 2018
Sort us out Sparky lad
— YoshidaFan (@yershida) March 14, 2018
Onwards and upwards. Let’s all get behind Mark and the team and retain our Premiership standing, regroup and march on into the next season. #saintsfc
— Mr Berridge (@Mako_or_Breako) 15 March 2018
Good appointment proven track record with plenty of experience to keep us up. Uts #saintsfc
— cam (@camsfc) March 14, 2018
Welcome Mark it’s a tough ask. But the #saintsfc family will support you and the team all of the way
— Rick H (@rick_harris1) 14 March 2018
The Saints were quite pleased to see Hughes at the start, although at the moment they’d do anything to get rid of the toxic Welshman.
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