Could former Saint Mark Hughes return to Southampton as manager?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 13 March 2018, 09:19

Southampton could be set to turn to former Saint Mark Hughes as they look to find a swift replacement for the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino.

Pellegrino was axed on Monday night in a decision which was deemed long overdue by many Saints supporters.

The struggling south coast side, 17th, are now keen to appoint a manager with Premier League experience who can come in ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final clash away to League One side Wigan.

But rather than opt for a short-term option until the end of the season, The Daily Echo reports that Southampton are instead eager to find a long-term successor for Pellegrino.

Former Watford boss Marco Silva instantly emerged as the frontrunner to succeed the Argentine on Monday night. The Portuguese coach is available, having lost his job back in January, but will no doubt be conscious of a second successive Premier League relegation, having suffered the dreaded drop with Hull last season.

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Hughes quickly overtook Silva at the top of the market last night, with the Welshman cut to just 4/11, although he’s now hovering around the 1/2 mark in the betting.

Hughes, who was sacked by Stoke six days into the New Year, made 52 Premier League appearances for Southampton between 1998 and 2000 under Dave Jones then Glenn Hoddle, scoring just two goals before moving on to Everton.

Hughes certainly has the Premier League managerial experience the Saints are said to be after. The 54-year-old has managed Stoke, QPR, Fulham, Man City and Blackburn without ever being relegated from the top-flight, although it’s fair to say that after the sleep-inducing football under Claude Puel and Pellegrino, Hughes doesn’t represent the most inspiring of appointments.

Another boss who lost his job earlier in the season, Slaven Bilic (formerly of West Ham), features in the upper echelons of the market, as does Gordon Strachan who remains a popular figure on the south coast having previously led the Saints to an FA Cup final and 8th place finish.

Given that the Saints only have eight league games to go then club legend, and caretaker, Kelvin Davis could well be an option until the end of the season.

If Southampton are prepared to wait until the summer in their search for a new long-term manager they would no doubt boost their chances of luring over a boss who is currently in employment.

Slavisa Jokanovic would no doubt be a popular choice given the attractive and high-scoring football of his Fulham side, while former Saint Graham Potter has been making waves with Swedish outfit Ostersunds, who recently shocked Arsenal at the Emirates. It would be considered a risk, but perhaps one that is worth taking.

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