The Southampton fans have been in fine spirits in the Transfer Tavern this week since the club announced that Mauricio Pellegrino’s dismissal following a barren run of form in the Premier League.
The resident Saints faithful lining up our bar have regularly complained about their side’s lacklustre performances this season under Pellegrino’s leadership, so the news which broke on Monday evening was naturally greeted with delight in the tavern. However, the supporters are hoping that the decision has not been left too late, as their new manager will only have 8 fixtures left from which to steer the club clear of the bottom-three.
It’s unlikely that Southampton’s appointment will be made as part of a long-term strategy which seeks to work towards a common goal or implement a particular brand of football, so the club will presumably reassess their options at the end of the season and make another decision regarding the managers position once their fate has been decided. On the premise that Southampton will stay in the Premier League this season, they should do everything they can to lure Rafa Benitez away from St James’ Park next summer.
Benitez’s departure from Newcastle would break the hearts of the Toon Army who hold the Spaniard in such high regard, so it’s not a decision he would take lightly. But Mike Ashley has thus far failed to back Benitez in the transfer market with sufficient funds to improve the squad, and if he continues to adopt a frugal approach then Benitez could easily be persuaded to embark on a new challenge.
Southampton have plenty of money in the bank leftover from the sale of Virgil Van Dijk in January, so they should be able to offer the former Champions League winner a budget which far exceeds anything that he could expect at Newcastle. The prospect of spending a healthy transfer kitty on his own players is one which Benitez would certainly find difficult to turn down.
Considering what Benitez has achieved in his career so far and how well he is managing with a squad which is severely lacking Premier League quality, Southampton would be foolish not to make him their number one managerial target in the summer, even if they have to offer a generous transfer budget to convince him to leave Newcastle.