Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Southampton still treading water

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 27 Nov 2018

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Southampton dropped into the Premier League relegation over the weekend after a 3-2 defeat at Fulham. The defeat rather summed up the Saints performances and results in the last few seasons. Last season they avoid the drop by the narrowest of margins, despite struggling for most of the season. In reality, their campaign has continued in a similar vein this season.

Mark Hughes is a mediocre football manager

While many will claim that Southampton are in their current situation because of the constant sale of their best players, mostly to Liverpool, boss Mark Hughes has to take some of the responsibility for the situation.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was growing up Mark Hughes was one of my favourite footballers, despite the fact he only spent a brief spell at the club I supported.

As a boss, though, the Welshman seems to have thrived on managing teams in the middle to bottom of the Premier League, without really achieving much of note. To put it bluntly, he is a mediocre football manager.

Hughes has managed to stay a Premier League boss because there is always a team in the bottom half of the table that wants to be midtable. Unfortunately, for Southampton, they have gone from top-half to bottom half of the table under Hughes.

Struggle to score

Southampton struggles to score goals, which is a big problem in football, obviously. Surprising, though, the Saints are not the lowest scorers in the Premier League, as Huddersfield and Crystal Palace have only scored eight times, compared to Southampton’s ten goals. A lack of goals has been an obvious problem since last season.

The Saints attempted to put that right by signing striker Danny Ings from Liverpool in the summer. I have to say, I rate Ings and thought it was a good move by the Saints. Ings has scored four times in 11 top-flight appearances for the Saints. He has close to half their top-flight goals this season.

Ings needs to some help from the likes of Charlie Austin, Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini. At least two of the three have proven prolific in the past, just maybe not in the Premier League.

While Hughes has rotated his forwards, Gabbiadini has scored just once in the league, while Austin has failed to find the net in the top-flight in ten appearances, although he did have a legitimate goal ruled out against Watford.

Shane Long is quite simply a striker who does not score goals and has unsurprisingly failed to score in the top-flight this season. With this group of strikers in their ranks, it is not surprising that the Saints have struggled so badly for goals.

In for another relegation battle

The Saints look set for another relegation battle, as the defeat against Fulham means that they have failed to win in their last nine Premier League games. The poor run of results has led to speculation over Hughes future as Saints boss.

In fact, the Welshman is the favourite be the next Premier League boss to lose his job at odds of 1/ 2. There were even reports on Monday claiming the south coast outfit have already sacked Hughes, which the club denied.

However, the team’s current situation is not a great one and it hard to see Hughes keeping his job much longer if the team continue to produce results as they have done of late.

If they do continue to struggle for results, then the Saints are in for a long hard struggle and another relegation battle.

Will Southampton suffer relegation this season?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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