2017/18 Season Review - Mario Lemina
Monday, 4th Jun 2018 10:02
Mario Lemina was a class midfielder, the big question though is why he didn't show it on a week in week out basis ?
When Mario Lemina joined Saints in mid August for around £18 million his firstcouple of games for the club were good but not great and he found himself substituted just after the hour mark in both.
However the International break seemed to give him a little bit more time to get fit and he came back from duty with Gabon much more fitter and focused and was a revelation in a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace and cemented his place in the side for the next four games.
At this point it looked like he would be bolted on for player of the year and indeed there were even rumblings that he would be the target of a bit club coming in for him in the January transfer window.
But a knock he had picked up in late October would halt his progress, not only in terms of he missed 3 games through injury, but in his relationship with Mauricio Pellegrino.
According to sources close to the club the fall out came when Pellegrino felt he was fit to play against Everton at St Mary's, whilst the player himself felt he wasn't quite ready.
Pellegrino put him on the bench anyway and what allegedly happened next perhaps tells the story of why our season went a bit pear shaped for both the club and indeed Lemina himself.
Saints as we know had their most emphatic win of the season against the Toffee's, 3-1 up on the hour mark and still comfortably holding that lead with 12 minutes left, you would have thought the manager might have kept things civil by leaving Lemina on the bench, given the player himself felt he wasn't fit.
There were plenty of other options available to the manager, indeed Nathan Redmond and Sam McQueen for instance could all have done a job given the player coming off was Dusan Tadic, however perhaps to prove a point Pellegrino threw on Lemina to perhaps show who was boss.
This was the beginning of the end for the relationship between player and manager.
Perhaps Pellegrino had a point after all Lemina did a full 90 minutes at Manchester City a few days later, but was then dropped for the trip to Bournemouth, a strange decision and the following weeks would see Lemina in one week, out the next and occasionally not there at all supposedly with an injury.
He certainly didn't seem to have the enthusiasm he had shown earlier in the season and it was clear something was up.
The pattern of in and out of the side continued right up to Pellegrino's departure.
Mark Hughes arrival might have meant a boost for Lemina, initially he was in the starting line up, but a niggling injury didn't help and after missing the Arsenal away game, he found himself an unused sub for the home defeat to Chelsea and didn't feature at Leicester.
He did start at Wembley however and returned to the side to star in the win over Bournemouth, however he picked up an injury at Everton meaning he had to come off at half time and he would play no further part in the campaign.
But it has to be said that at both Swansea and Manchester City he was there with the squad after the game and looked just as delighted as those who played in celebrating, suggesting that his relationship with Mark Hughes is a lot better than the one he had with Pellegrino.
Mario Lemina is perhaps symptomatic of the season and indeed the squad, he is truly a class player, but Pellegrino failed to get the best out of him, perhaps playing him against Everton back in November meant that his injury never really healed, that we will never know.
Hopefully next season we will see the best from Lemina, if we can get him and indeed several other members of our squad playing to theri full potential and we will have a far better season than this one.
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