Southampton manager Mark Hughes says speculation he is set to be sacked by the club is “water off a duck’s back”.
Reports have claimed former QPR, Leicester City and Swansea City boss Paulo Sousa has been lined up to take over at Southampton.
Hughes kept the Saints in the Premier League last season but they are only off the bottom of the table on goal difference having failed to win in the top flight since September 1.
Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Fulham was followed by a defeat on penalties to Leicester in the EFL Cup, increasing the growing pressure on Hughes.
But the former Wales boss claims he is not feeling the heat despite increased rumours his time at Southampton is coming to an end.
“I think that is where the experience comes in, because it’s water off a duck’s back if I am honest,” Hughes told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s visit of Manchester United.
“I know how this game works, the reality is if people summarise that a manager is under pressure then low and behold every sports agency in the country will put forward clients.
“Debate, try and get in contact with the powers at be and say ‘listen this is the right guy if you are thinking of making a change’.
“That’s what happens. I understand that, it’s not a problem, its people doing their business but it’s when that is a little bit too obvious, when people are setting the agenda for themselves, to benefit themselves. That is when I rile against it if I am honest.”
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) November 29, 2018
Hughes was sacked by Stoke last season – the Potters relegated despite replacing the Welshman – and he understands speculation is a knock-on effect of Southampton’s poor form.
“It’s what a lack of positive results brings,” he added. “In this day and age, there are media outlets out there that try and set the agenda, when really it isn’t backing up my facts or the reality of the situation at the club.
“So you have to deal with that as well. But truth in the matter, I have said this a few times, if you get good results then that pressure goes away, it goes to somebody else.
“I am not the only manager in charge of a football club that is down at the bottom and maybe is underachieving at the moment. I seem to be getting the brunt of the speculation, rightly or wrongly, but I accept it that’s what happens.
“I have been in the game a long time, it does not faze me, we want to excel even more and that is the message I give to the players. It’s about these moments not allowing people an opportunity to question you as a player and as an individual. If anything we have been guilty of allowing people opportunities.”
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