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Is Mark Hughes The Right Man For The Job ?
Tuesday, 15th May 2018 09:58

Now the dust is settling we have to consider if Mark Hughes is the right man to take Saints forward or was he just a firefighter. Here we take a look at the facts.

In appointing Mark Hughes for the remainder of the season Saints had to tear up their blueprint for a manager or at least put it to one side for a while.

Now that the celebrations in staying up are over and it is the cold light of day, Ralph Krueger and his board have to look at their options and make what is now a crucial appointment after the issues with the last two incumbents of the St Mary's hot seat.

Certainly the fans are in no doubt that Mark Hughes is the man for the job, but that does not mean that they are right and although the former Saints player is now being lauded for saving Saints from the drop, we have to consider whether we are looking at it through rose tinted spectacles, after all this was not a great escape but more of a Great Survival.

Hughes and Pellegrino's records were not that much different, Hughes gained exactly a point a game from his 8 games in charge, whereas Pellegrino gained 28 from his 30 games, there was little in it.

You could also say that Pellegrino had more issues to deal with, there was the Van Dijk issue as Saints tried to persuade him to stay for a season and played him when they really should have let him rot in the reserves as they say and the attendant morale in the squad issues this caused, also he lost his top scorer Charlie Austin for the final three months of his spell at St Mary's

Hughes took over when Saints were in 17th position and they ended in 17th position, there are those who would point to Swansea's inability to win games as the reason for Saints staying up, Swansea fans would consider they threw it away rather than we stormed past them.

When Hughes took over Swansea were on 31 points, in their final 8 games they took only 2 points, losing all their final 5 games, 4 of them by only a single goal.

So there is a case for saying that Hughes go little more out of the squad than Pellegrino, certainly his first league came saw a appalling defeat at West Ham where he got the tactics completely wrong and we got blitzed, defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea in the League saw the usual error strewn performances from a side that seemed a little more motivated but not much better organised.

At this stage there were mutterings about Hughes tactics and selections and after the defeat at Wembley followed by a draw at Leicester, the jury was very much out.

So those who would be wary of appointing Hughes full time would point to this and claim that until the final three games we were no better than the rest of the season and that even in those three games it was more a case of the players personal pride and slef motivation that carried them through than the managers tactics.

But these people would at the moment be in a minority, but that does not mean they are wrong or does it !

On the Ugly Inside message board there were many who defended Hughes against the above accusations.

TygerUppercut said.

"The points per game ratio may be similar But surely everyone can agree we have been a lot more enjoyable to watch. If hughes had been given more time I believe we Would have been comfortably safe with games to spare. In the short time Hes been here Hes clearly galvanised the squad, helped the team spirit & given the team a nasty edge, some of the professional fouls commited Would never have been made under pelegrino.
Yes pelegrino had an injured austin But for the first part of the season barely played him anyway "

KRAZYB followed that with

"I really don't understand the need for this question. 3 of the 8 games we played under Hughes, were against top 5 sides
7 out of 30 under pellegrino , and in two under Hughes we were robbed by refereeing errors. Chelsea for not sending off Alonso, and yesterday the referee should have made them retake the free kick as a taking the free kick when there is a moving ball is not allowed.
Another case of bigteamitis."

EarsCourtSaint summed it up.

" An absolutely bloody amazing job considering what he inherited in terms of tactics and approach, a team that had been coached into playing sideways with absolutely no motivation or inspiration. Of the 8 games WHU was the only one where we simply didnt turn up, but perhaps in hindsight that was what was needed to deliver the wake up call. Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Man City could/should all have been wins if we had better luck/decisions. We have proven in the last 6 games that we can compete with anyone, start next season like we finished this one and we will be back in the top half! "

So the counter argument to the accusation that Hughes changed little and perhaps that it just needed anyone than Pellegrino also holds water, if Pellegrino had some mitigating circumstances then Hughes had them quadruple.

The general consensus seems to be that yes Hughes did take a little bit of time and that was understandable, but given the calibre of teams he had to face, 5 of which were away from home he had done well in the circumstances.

I can also agree that we had a lot of bad luck and poor refereeing decisions, far more than the average team, but that could be said about the team all season as well Watford away being a real case in point.

Overall though I don't think there are many Saints fans that would be unhappy with Hughes being appointed, yes some of that goodwill may stem from the relief of Sunday's survival, but Hughes came and did a job and that can't be denied.

But is feeling gratitude enough to give him a long term deal ?

The answer is no, but there is a feeling of distrust amongst the supporter base that Les Reed is not up to the task of appointing the right man, that he is going for foreign coaches who are unheard of in this country at least, it is too much of an experiment.

The fan base did not like what they saw in both Puel and Pellegrino, that being the case for them Hughes fits the bill in the fact that he like Koeman is someone they know and who is tried and tested at a certain level.

From this point of view Mark Hughes has the track record, Stoke fans may not like him much now, but in his first three seasons he finished 9th each time and in his final full season he finished 13th but only 2 points off Saints in 8th.

Hughes record was almost identical to what was being achieved by Pochettino, Koeman and Puel the three managers we had during that time, but he was doing it with far less resources and a much weaker squad than this.

So overall Mark Hughes will not be the worst appointment that Saints could make, indeed give the need for stability and indeed a bit of a reality check after four great years before this one he could actually be the best fit.

So what is your opinion on the subject and also vote in our online poll using the link below.!/polls/2043/mark-hug

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A_Saint_in_Stoke added 10:38 - May 15
I do understand that you should put forward, a very balanced viewpoint, and agree that there should not be any sentimentality about the managers appointment.
Reading through your post - I got extremely angry - How you were comparing Hughes and Pellegrino's records were not that much different.
Pellegrino was the worse Manager in the whole of Southampton's history, you will not get Saints going 17 games without a win under Hughes!
Surly weighing up the differences - under Pellegrino dull unattractive boring style , that with his totally bazarr tactics and idea's dragged us to the bottom OR
Or give Mark Hughes a chance - who let's face it saved our season - by giving THE exactly same players that Pellegrino had BUT Mark Hughes installed in them positive belief/confidence and belief in themselves - and got us scoring again, and even under the nervous circumstances produced some flowing football.
I did try to tell the Saints fans that Mark Hughes Would keep us up and just be positive and believe he would - mainly because of what an excellent job that he has done with Stoke on a meagre budget for players, and yet 4 top 10 Premiership finishes ........ even Lambert said Hughes had done a great job..

helpineedsomebody added 10:49 - May 15
for me NO
why, since we have come back in to the epl we have played FOOTBALL / the last 2 seasons have been difficult to understand what saints were trying to achieve.
now we are in avery difficult position, what mark has done under real pressure has been fantastic & thank you. looking back over the last 20 years or so the football we have played under different managers has been dire exceptions big mac / souness/ hoddle /mp/koeman iloved the way they played attacking football & took risks. so to put it in anutshell i watched FULHAM & DERBY play last night fulham were great to watch all there players could play from back to front not once wasting the ball , now the way derby played was dreadful just kept going up a dead end all night, thats THE WAY MARK HUGHES teams will play aka ALEHOUSE FOOTBALL on the ground & all the football in the air NOT FOR ME THANKYOU

Toussaint added 10:52 - May 15
I'm not even going to look at the stats for this because when I look at what Mick Channon has done in racing, he was clearly the man that should have taken over from Lawrie Mac or Alan Ball Mac..I even thought Jimmy Case would have been a good boss for us, and Le Tiss or Shearer should have been groomed to take over for years, what I mean is, we need to look for a boss that knows what Saints are all about

Ok you can get a hit or a miss with a Pooch or a Puel and rarely is there a Koeman hanging around on street corners.but in reality it's all about knowing more about what drives the city and what the fans expect from the players.that's why Mark Hughes, Gary Monk or even Jose Fonte would be better options right now, rather than someone that knows absolutely nothing about us like the previous two managers.we are better off with someone that has empathy for the club so give Hughes the job, at least he will know how to motivate them. get rid of Ralph bring back Paul Mitchell ,move Les upstairs and we are good to go

DorsetIan added 10:57 - May 15
One of the problems is that these days we all want jam on it. Everyone else in the world is trying to get promoted - trying to get to the promised land of the Premier League - but once you're in it, it gets harder to succeed. What can most clubs realistically hope to achieve - a good cup run, a top 10 finish? But even that is often felt not to be enough, Everton, Leicester, West Han, all with managers under threat having kept their sides comfortably in the league but with the fans still wanting more. (Brighton, Palace, Huddersfield and Newcastle fans meanwhile delighted with what their managers did...)

I think we all need to acknowledge that (1) the Premier League is a very hard league and (2) exceptional managers are extremely rare - and even they can fail - look at Koeman...

Hughes is a manager who knows how to win games in the Premier League. Not only has he kept us up, but he has done so by really getting the players behind him. Whatever is the exact opposite of a manager having 'lost' the dressing room, Hughes has it just now.

It would, frankly, be complete madness to not keep him. He is good ENOUGH for us, and there are very few managers who would be guaranteed to do better than him.

landsdownsaint added 11:26 - May 15
Comparing him to Pelligrino ain’t right , just listen to the players comments on him. I would imagine Klopps record to Rodgers is very similar but I know who & every Liverhpton fan woild have .

wibbersda added 11:31 - May 15
Nice of you to make a case for Pellegrino, but lets face it he was awful and out of his depth. Set up not to lose is not and should not be the "Southampton Way". Hughes should be good for a couple of seasons.

mgprobert added 11:31 - May 15
I wrote about this on another post. I think the board will go with Hughes because it is the safe option and they've had their fingers burnt with the last two choices. No one would blame them if they kept him on, so why take a risk? and I think most Saints fans would be OK with that, me included

Look at Swansea though - Carvalhal's first few games were amazing, with wins against Liverpool and Arsenal, a win away to Watford and a draw at Leicester. But then the new manager magic rubbed off and as you say they lost their last 5 games. It was Swansea that saved us, not a great turnaround by Saints, despite much more spirited performances at the end. You could say that Mark Hughes was within a whisker of taking two teams down this season - which sounds ungrateful, but is the cold facts of the situation.

Glad its not me deciding!

By the way, those giving the board a regular bashing should also take pause to recognise the good decision to buy Alex McCarthy, and then bring him in this season


Braveheart added 11:47 - May 15
For me, Pellegrino should have been sacked at Christmas. If it wasn't for Les Reeds' stubborn ego in admitting he had got it wrong then we would never have been in the situation we were in. This has been the worse season we have suffered for a long time. The board have not yet grasped the folly of employing cheap foreign imports like Puel and Pellegrino. My opinion outside of appointing Arsene Wenger is give Sparky a go at least until Christmas. Can I also suggest that the board have a message page in every match day programme?

landerwal added 11:51 - May 15
The problem this season was Pellingrino. Tactically naive, bizarre team selection and lack of motivation are just some of the accusations that can be levelled at him. The Van Dijk saga was not an issue as we played worse after he left. Austin's absence was not the problem, not playing Gabbiadini was. At the end of every season one team at least tails off results wise and is relegated. This season it was Swansea. If MP had stayed it would have been us. We started the season with the same squad that finished the last in 8th place and a LCF under it's belt plus 3 new signings that under Hughes turned out to be good buys. MP managed to take that squad down to another level. Appointing a new manager in the Premiership is always going to be a hit or miss affair. If it wasn't Howe would not now be the longest serving Premiership manager. I would give the job to Hughes. He has the experience, he motivates the team, he kept us up, he wants the job, his appointment would give us continuity for next season and most importantly he has the player's on his side.

Colburn added 11:57 - May 15
If we bring in a new manager, he will need to look at the squad before assessing any changes to it. This could mean we are in the same situation next season hoping we can make the necessary purchases to survive. The players will know we are not sorted as a squad and this will not help their motivation or direction. Hughes is already in a position to know who to discard and who to bring in so we can hit the ground running in August with a newly assembled group who know the plan for the season. If we can start the season we’ll then that momentum could continue for a good year. Start afresh again and we go backwards from where we are now.. Hughes deserves the chance! We were dead and buried until he turned up.

Boris1977 added 12:07 - May 15
I think whoever becomes manager needs to be supported by the board/director of football/owner in terms of not only buying players but just as importantly retaining players.

It is going to take an iron will to say no to players who want to leave and then to get them to play to their full potential rather than sulking. Sparky has shown he can make tough decisions against dissenting or ill-fitting players in dropping Boufal and Carrillo but can those up above support him?

Based on the past 5 years it’s clear they cannot/will not support the manager in this way and this was one of the reasons Koeman left apparently. While I have never criticised the board despite feeling frustration with them I don’t feel that they are strong enough to do this. The new majority owners hardly provides any assurances either.

SanMarco added 12:08 - May 15
Before the Swansea game Hughes was actually lower on points-per-game than MP. All that proves it that you cannot use statistical comparisons with so little data. Even now Hughes has had only 3 home games and 2 of those against top 5 sides and both lost to weaknesses that long pre-dated his appointment.

Hughes is indeed the 'safe option' in the short term and I think they will go for him. Another untried and tested manager from one of the European leagues would be a big gamble for Les Reed - he has got so much wrong in the past couple of years that even he would have to go if it all went wrong (surely!!??)

The other big (perhaps even bigger) question is the way we assemble a good, balanced, squad that can get us where we belong which is mid-table looking to push higher. I may be unpopular for saying this but Puel and MP suffered from some pretty odd decisions in the transfer market and a very destructive strategy of being totally blind to obvious weaknesses. And the Van Dick fiasco was hardly MP's fault was it? Both Puel and MP were prisoners of the board's myopia. I agree that MP was a poor appointment but he wasn't handed a good set of cards.

The cynic in me says they will give it to Hughes and be ready to sack him fairly quickly if things go wrong. Let's face it if he signs Crouch and three 9 foot 4 statues for central defence we may all go off him quite quickly...

Consigliere added 12:09 - May 15
There are two ways you could look at this - a balance sheet approach or what "feels" right for the club. Let's consider these in turn.

The balance sheet approach says that on the plus side, he will motivate the players to grind out an ugly win where we need to and an ugly draw when that is all we could realistically achieve. He will keep us in the league and we will probably end up somewhere mid-table, with perhaps a decent cup run to excite the fans. On the downside, he isn't going to get us into the Champions League, although it is doubtful that anyone could achieve that feat. So, on a balance sheet approach the answer is "Yes" we should appoint him full time.

The amygdala approach is to ask if he feels right. I was not his biggest fan when he was appointed but he has won me round with his passion and commitment. If he can get the fans to love him he can get the team to do so too, and that is really important. By this test, he is most definitely the right man for the job.

Mr Hughes, welcome to sainthood.

bstokesaint added 12:22 - May 15
It’s a no-brainer really. Why take a punt on another unknown and/or unproven? I liked Puel for what he did (and he did achieve), but he obviously split the fans with his tactics. Pellegrino was clueless. His tactics were bizarre. We were rotating even when we were only in one competition! A player could be man of the match one game and then on the bench the next. And we never looked like scoring multiple goals so bothered were we about not losing.

As others have stated Hughes know the league, the players, the club and the city. He has the passion and he knows what it takes to succeed, often on limited budgets. Give him the chance and give him money to spend. Us fans are not idiots. We can do the maths. There is no way there isn’t money stashed somewhere from the huge net sales’ figures reported and the enhanced TV revenue. Plus the sales of some of our big wantaway failures should raise some more funds, albeit at a discount from what we paid. And let’s do this quickly and stop messing around with our tippy-tappy approach. Oh yeah and to the board, please remind us what the new strategy is. I don’t think “survival” will cut it.

bstokesaint added 12:22 - May 15
It’s a no-brainer really. Why take a punt on another unknown and/or unproven? I liked Puel for what he did (and he did achieve), but he obviously split the fans with his tactics. Pellegrino was clueless. His tactics were bizarre. We were rotating even when we were only in one competition! A player could be man of the match one game and then on the bench the next. And we never looked like scoring multiple goals so bothered were we about not losing.

As others have stated Hughes know the league, the players, the club and the city. He has the passion and he knows what it takes to succeed, often on limited budgets. Give him the chance and give him money to spend. Us fans are not idiots. We can do the maths. There is no way there isn’t money stashed somewhere from the huge net sales’ figures reported and the enhanced TV revenue. Plus the sales of some of our big wantaway failures should raise some more funds, albeit at a discount from what we paid. And let’s do this quickly and stop messing around with our tippy-tappy approach. Oh yeah and to the board, please remind us what the new strategy is. I don’t think “survival” will cut it.

skiptonsaint added 12:26 - May 15
Wonder how many points Hughes would of got out of those 10 winnable games at the start of the season..

saintjf added 13:17 - May 15
I have enjoyed watching the team under Hughes. They move about and create. Previously the team looked liked one of the those table football teams with the rods running through them. I have said before but it is important. I feel like a supporter again. On that not very logical basis I would be happy for Hughes to be given a go.

SaintBrock added 13:21 - May 15
Let's hope FFS that Kreuger & Reed have FA to do with the decision as I wouldn't trust their judgement in a sheepdog trial.

Hughes is not the right man for us FULL STOP. Horses for courses, his forte is what he has just done.

There are enough competent managers around to find one who can at least stabilise things here and get us playing decent positive attacking g football again.

We now know that most foreign managers and players cannot come to the PL and expect to be up to speed quickly. We have to find an established name with a decent track record who has been here before and knows the ropes.

Heaven forbid we select somebody from the large pool of Brit managers who keep failing yet keep getting employed only because they speak English, are cheap and nobody worth their salt would touch most of the clubs in the PL below the top 8.

DPeps added 13:28 - May 15
Appoint Hughes but be ready to be ruthless if things start to go wrong. Hughes seems to be one of those managers who reaches a ceiling with teams and then things go wrong (Steve Bruce is another). Maybe Hughes's level is our level, though?

schatfield added 13:41 - May 15
No thanks, Hughes was bought in to keep us up. He did that, but probably more so for the massive loss in form that Swansea had likewise...
There are so many decent managers out there we could go for and would love to manage in the premiership. So we messed up with the Argentinian this year, and I hope the management dont get scared off their path, but the Saints way has been to bring in the type of person who is not the finished article and help them flourish. I would much rather go for someone like Arteta and see how far we can fly...

grumpyoldsaint added 13:48 - May 15
Surely the question is who is the best that we can get to manage. If there is someone better than Hughes we should go for them.
Banfoot was the worst manager we have had by a country mile

BoondockSaint added 15:59 - May 15
He saved us and the players are playing for him. So he deserves a shot. Hell, just the marching off the bus showed more spirit than the two managers before him combined ever did!

Agree with comments saying if we had Hughes during our "easy" run at the beginning of the season, we would not have been in so much trouble at the end of the season.

All this talk about star managers who are going to get us into Champions League is fantasy.

Les has established us as a farm team and Ralph says we are a "small club" who should be happy to be in the league. So we're not going to get an up-and-coming genius because he knows he won't get any help from the board. It will only hurt his career. Our 5, 10, 15,20 year plan now seems to be: Just stay up, and cash in on talent.


AirFlorida added 22:10 - May 15
We now have an average prem squad (ie I can't see many top teams picking off our players this summer!). So our average players need to be motivated and challenged to become greater than the sum of their parts- MP failed with honours to do this. We can not afford a wholesale clear out so Huges is a here and now solution and will cajole these players through another season of safety I'm sure. But, if we want to build another talented attacking team he's not the chappy. That said, if we do go down the Koeman/Pochettino style route again we need to accept we'll lose our best players at the end of the season (and possibly any new fancy manager) so we'll end up back where we are now with an average team and looking for a manager to cajole them 😂😂

NZsaint added 14:25 - May 16
Guss hiddink,lets try for a manager that’s actually won something as a manager.not just safety.time to push the boat out saints

SaintJez added 14:30 - May 16
I firmly believe that the manager known as "Anyone But Pellegrino" allied to a hopeless Swansea run of form kept us up.

Hughes brought a new voice and some passion to the dressing room which had an effect on many of the players who clearly were at odds with whatever Pellegrino was trying to make them do. This said, Hughes got it badly wrong away at West Ham in what appeared to be a must win (certainly must not lose) game and we followed that up with some fragile performances despite playing 5 at the back and at least 2 holding midfielders.

Select your best XI from the 22 on the pitch for the 2 games we won and I would expect everyone will have at least 8 saints players, probably more! I'm not saying I'm not pleased we won, or grateful to Hughes, or happy that we handled the pressure but these are games WE SHOULD WIN. The Bournemouth at home game we had 20% less possession and less shots. against Bournemouth. at home. With better individual talent. We shouldn't be in awe of this achievement. Thankful, perhaps, but impressed? not so much.. (I was more impressed by Arsenal and Chelsea games as it happened but then the collapses ruined it all)

For what it's worth, I WOULD give Hughes the job as much as anything for his previous ties with the club, his attitude and that generally he has the backing of the fans. Let's not get carried away though. We weren't great the last 8 games of the season..


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