The 2018-19 Premier League season has started in predictably underwhelming fashion for Southampton.
Mark Hughes’ side have picked up eight points from their first 12 league games, scoring just eight goals in the process, and the club took “constructive action” to “get results back on track” by sacking vice-chairman Les Reed earlier this week.
Despite the poor start, it has been reported by Sky Sports that the club remains supportive of Hughes and they intend to back the Welshman in the January transfer window.
Saints keeping faith with their manager hasn’t stopped speculation surrounding Hughes’ future, though, with some bookmakers offering odds on who will replace him at St Mary’s.
Names including Steve Bruce and David Moyes top the bookies’ shortlist of possible replacements, but the name that stands out the most is third-favourite Sam Allardyce.
The former England boss has become a survival specialist in the Premier League in recent years and, unlike Bruce and Moyes, he has never been relegated during his time as a manager.
In each of the last three seasons, the 64-year-old has taken over an underperforming club in the early stages of the campaign and led them to safety:
- In 2015-16, Sunderland were in 19th place and looked doomed for relegation after eight winless games at the start of the season. When Allardyce took over, they pulled off the great escape and finished 17th.
- In 2016-17, Crystal Palace were in 17th place after a run of one win in 11 games. They went on to finish 14th after Allardyce’s appointment in December.
- In 2017-18, out-of-form Everton were in 13th place when they named Allardyce as their new boss at the end of November. Despite his critics, of which there were many, the former Bolton boss led the Toffees to eighth in the table.
Allardyce’s record during that time — 96 points from 75 games — is way above average considering that all three clubs were hovering around the drop zone when he took charge.
In comparison, Hughes’ Premier League record is getting worse and worse by the season. The 55-year-old was a steady pair of hands at Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham and during his first three years at Stoke (the less said about QPR the better).
However, his record towards the end of his time at Stoke and since he took over at Southampton has left a lot to be desired.
Since March 2017, he has picked up 45 points from 53 Premier League games — a record that is verging on Alan Pardew levels of bad (Pardew has 36 points from his last 56 games).
Southampton currently find themselves in 17th place in the table with only three points separating them from 20th-placed Fulham and one goal separating them from 18th-placed Cardiff.
Hughes’ side have a tough run of fixtures coming up in December, where they will be reliant on the likes of Danny Ings and Charlie Austin in matches against ‘Big Six’ clubs Manchester United (H), Tottenham (A), Arsenal (H) and Manchester City (H).
Before then, they face a tricky trip to bottom-of-the-table Fulham, who made the bold move this week to sack Slavisa Jokanovic and appoint Claudio Ranieri.
If results don’t improve for Saints before the new year, perhaps they should follow Fulham’s lead by replacing Hughes with survival specialist Allardyce.
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