After less than nine months in charge, Premier League strugglers Southampton parted company with manager Mauricio Pellegrino on Monday evening.
Saints are one place and one point above the relegation zone following one league win in 17 matches and have now begun the search for the Argentinian’s replacement.
Here, FP looks at potential candidates who could be tasked with keeping the club in the top flight.
An early favourite for the job, Silva made his mark in the Premier League when he arrived in January 2017 and earned plenty of plaudits for his ultimately fruitless attempts to keep Hull in the top flight. The Portuguese was snapped up by Watford last summer and he continued to enhance his reputation at Vicarage Road before having his head turned by Everton, who were looking for a replacement for Ronald Koeman. A poor run of results followed and Watford sacked Silva in January, blaming Everton’s approach as the “catalyst for the decision.” Could Silva be tempted by another rescue mission at St Mary’s?
Among the bookmakers’ favourites, Hughes has been out of work since his sacking at Stoke in January. He is a former Saints player, making 52 appearances and scoring two goals for the club between 1998 and 2000. The Welshman helped Stoke to three consecutive ninth-place Premier League finishes in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 before progress stalled. His time with the Potters ended following an FA Cup defeat to Sky Bet League Two Coventry and on the back of five defeats in seven Premier League matches – a record which could count against him given Southampton’s current predicament.
Southampton are not scared of making a left-field appointment, so Shakhtar Donetsk coach Fonseca cannot be ruled out. The 45-year-old has spoken of his admiration for the Premier League and is believed to have been interviewed by Everton before Sam Allardyce was appointed. Fonseca, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has a win percentage of just over 78% since taking charge of Shakhtar in 2016, leading the Ukrainian club to Premier League, Ukrainian Cup and Super Cup glory in that time. He is also a character, making good on a promise to dress as Zorro to a press conference if his side were to qualify from a Champions League group containing Manchester City and Napoli.
Highly-rated Potter was the last English manager standing in European club competition this season, with Swedish minnows Ostersund going out to Arsenal in the Europa League round of 32. However, a 3-0 home defeat was followed by a stunning 2-1 win at the Emirates, and the former York defender has worked wonders at the club. Potter would be a brave choice but the 42-year-old’s record in Sweden stands up against some of the very best in the business. Since taking charge in 2011, Potter has taken Ostersund from the fourth tier to the Swedish top flight.
The Croatian was sacked by West Ham in November 2017 following a poor run of results which culminated in a 4-1 loss at home to Liverpool. However, his first season with the Hammers brought a top-seven finish and with it Europa League qualification. Their European adventure did not last long, however, as they were knocked out by Romanian side FC Astra Giurgiu in the qualifying rounds. They finished mid-table the following season and were in trouble when he left the club. Is he somebody Southampton could take a gamble on?
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