Mark Hughes established a positive relationship with the Southampton supporters last season after leading the club to Premier League survival, but a disappointing opening to the season has provoked fresh questions about his credentials to lead the Saints.
Just one victory and four defeats from Southampton’s opening seven fixtures have put Hughes under plenty of pressure as he prepares his side for a trip to Goodison Park this evening.
The Carabao Cup may not be high on Hughes’ list of priorities at this stage in the season, but with his side performing so poorly it’s a perfect opportunity to experiment with his starting lineup.
The Saints have conceded 11 goals from their opening 7 league fixtures this season with Wesley Hoedt an ever-present alongside Jannik Vestergaard, but the pairing have struggled to establish a strong partnership.
Hoedt, in particular, has been ominously unconvincing and he’s certainly not justifying the £14.76 million Southampton parted with to secure his services in 2017.
With Hoedt’s dreadful form to consider, it’s time that Hughes gave Maya Yoshida (valued at £6.3 million by Transfermarkt) a chance to prove himself this season.
The 86-cap Japan international played an instrumental role in his national side’s journey to the last-sixteen at the World Cup during the summer, but he is yet to make a single Premier League start this season despite his fine form in Russia.
With natural leadership qualities, an intelligent footballing brain and bags of experience to bring to the table, Yoshida could help solve Southampton’s defensive woes.
After another poor performance from Hoedt at the weekend it’s time for Hughes to take decisive action ahead of Chelsea’s visit to St Mary’s on Sunday afternoon, and dropping Hoedt for Yoshida should be regarded as something of a necessity.
But with little by way of match fitness it’s important that Yoshida gets 90 minutes under his belt this evening ahead of a fixture which could leave Hughes in huge trouble – even if his side navigate their way into the 4th round of the Carabao Cup tonight.
Yoshida’s Southampton career is slipping out of view this season without a single minute of Premier League football to his name in the first 7 fixtures, but he deserves a lifeline to re-establish himself as a first-team regular whilst Hoedt is struggling.
Southampton fans – thoughts? Let us know below!
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