Head-To-Head: Alan Pardew vs Mauricio Pellegrinoby Chloe Beresford / 02 February 2018, 12:54Tweet
It takes a lot of bottle for a football club to sack its manager in the first month of the season.
Such decisive action could make or break a campaign, the wrong move likely to write off all of the forthcoming year’s work. Southampton made such a decision back at the start of the 2010/11 season, one that would spark off an incredible chain of events for Saints supporters.
Even though Alan Pardew had managed to win the EFL Cup and a seventh-place finish – despite a 10-point deduction due to administration – the boss was shown the door in August of the following campaign.
His record shows that he had won 34 from his 64 games in charge, but it was clearly time for a change on England’s South coast following reports of low staff morale under Pardew’s stewardship. A report in the local newspaper also revealed that only 9% of fans were happy with the sacking at the time, his dismissal a complete surprise after a 4-0 win to Bristol Rovers.
Caretaker boss Dean Wilkins lost all three of his matches in temporary charge of the side, but Southampton never looked back after they appointed Nigel Adkins in September. Under his charge the side recovered from their woes like never before, winning back-to-back promotions to the Championship followed by the Premier League. Adkins was replaced by Mauricio Pochettino before the eventual appointment of Ronald Koeman, their success under that duo already well-documented.
Skipping forward to present day, Pardew is in charge of relegation-threatened West Brom, the 56-year-old due to take on his former club Southampton with opposite number Mauricio Pellegrino at the helm. Six seasons is a long time in football, and the Saints now find themselves in a desperate position in the league, fans having been calling for the unpopular boss to be fired for what seems like an eternity.
How long has Mauricio Pellegrino got left at Southampton...?— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) February 1, 2018
- #saintsfc are 18th & without a win in 12.
- It's the club's worst Premier league winless run since 1994/95.
- All of the other 91 teams in the top-4 leagues have tasted victory since Saints last won. pic.twitter.com/UNiflnTTDQ
West Brom are currently bottom of the Premier League after a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in midweek, but Pardew will at least be bolstered by the signing of striker Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool. The former Southampton boss will look to capitalise on his tendency to play with width, hoping that the new man will connect with one of an average of 21 crosses per game fired in by the Baggies.
Statistics show that only two teams that have averaged more crosses than West Brom this term, one of which is Tottenham and the other Southampton, both with a total of 22. The problem for Pellegrino is they are lacking the firepower of the injured Charlie Austin and – whilst unbeaten in the last five matches – they could only draw in their three previous fixtures.
For the two sides who have registered most draws in the Premier League with eleven each this term, it looks likely that honours will be even at the Hawthorns this weekend. However this is already a relegation six-pointer and could have huge ramifications if one side can find the breakthrough versus the other.
“The gaps at the moment are very insignificant in the Premier League and a win on Saturday will close us up to a lot of teams,” said Pardew in his pre-match press conference.
“It’s a crucial game, we can’t hide from it, we’re learning to deal with it.”
It might be wise for Southampton to use the opportunity of meeting their previous boss Alan Pardew as something of a wake-up call, a reminder that decisive action in his sacking sparked their run of success in the last few years. Relegation this season would see some of that superb work undone, and their hesitation in firing Pellegrino could prove costly indeed.
The Argentine is hanging onto his job by a thread, but perhaps a negative result versus their former boss could be enough to see Southampton finally do what seems to be increasingly necessary.