Premier League Sack Race: Mauricio Pellegrino vs Rafa Benitez

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 17 January 2018, 10:28

Former colleagues Mauricio Pellegrino and Rafa Benitez are currently embroiled in an unwanted battle at the top of the Premier League Sack Race.

In the aftermath of Mark Hughes’ Stoke exit on 6th January it was Saints manager Pellegrino who was installed as the new odds-on favourite for the axe, but now the Argentine has company at the summit of the market in his former boss Benitez.

The duo can’t be separated with Bet Victor handing both bosses odds of 2/1 to be the eighth top-flight managerial casualty of the season.

Pellegrino, who played for Benitez at Valencia, switched to Liverpool in 2005, making 13 appearances under then the Spaniard. Three years later he returned to Anfield as Benitez’s first-team coach, and they went on to work together at Inter Milan, before Pellegrino ventured solo with Valencia in 2012.

Fast-forward to the current day and Pellegrino finds himself under an avalanche of pressure at relegation-threatened Southampton (17th) who have won a pitiful four of their 23 Premier League games under the Argentine, the last of which dates back to November.

A defeat to Spurs, who spanked the south coast outfit 5-2 a few weeks ago, on Sunday would surely result in a mid-season switch, although the current pool of high-quality available managers is very shallow.

But, if rumours are to be believed, the next Premier League boss to leave could well be Benitez, who has been cut from 10/1 to 2/1 following Newcastle’s takeover brokedown.

The Spaniard’s future is currently shredded in doubt after Newcastle’s much-maligned owner Mike Ashley called off the proposed £300m takeover from Amanda Staveley and PCP Capital Partners, labelling the negotiations “exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time.”

(Source Sky Sports)

...It’s now looking likely that Ashley will remain at the helm until the summer, at the very least...

The Toon’s inactivity in the transfer window means a dismayed Benitez is at his wits end, and understandably so, with Ashley unwilling to hand the manager funds to lure in new players at this crunch point in the season.

The duo have a non-existent relationship, and while Benitez is adored by many on Tyneside, given the circumstances few would begrudge the 57-year-old from walking away from the 15th-placed club, who are currently three points above the relegation zone.

Should Benitez leave, it begs the question: who on earth would want to come in and work under Ashley...?

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David Wagner
(Huddersfield Town)
14th January
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