According to BBC Sport, Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has controversially claimed that it ‘would not make sense’ for him to remain at the club were chairman Nicola Cortese to leave, amongst rumours that the latter is considering his future after admitting differences with the trust in charge of the club.
Whilst many Saints fan were hostile to their new manager initially simply due to the incredibly harsh sacking of Nigel Adkins, they are no doubt behind him now, and his exit would surely prove a huge blow for the club’s seemingly bright future.
Pochettino has no doubt exceeded expectations during his short spell at the club, most crucially ensuring it guaranteed its place in the Premier League for at least another season. Beyond this however, he has developed the team into an attractive attacking unit, evident in some fantastic victories over some of the league’s biggest clubs.
Indeed the Saints blew Manchester City away in a 3-1 home victory in February, defeated Liverpool by the same scoreline in March, and followed the latter up with a 2-1 defeat of Chelsea at St Mary's. He has no doubt got the best out of the likes of striker Jay Rodriguez – who scored in both the Liverpool and Chelsea games and subsequent defeat of Reading – and French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, recently voted both the Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Season at the club’s recent end of season awards ceremony.
Whilst the team’s results have somewhat tailed off towards the last handful of games of this season, it certainly has the potential to significantly improve on this season’s mid-low table finish if Pochettino continues at the helm, especially with a first pre-season imminent.
His success at previous club Espanyol and links to the La Liga should prove crucial to recruiting both high-profile names and little-known gems from abroad, as done so effectively by Swansea’s Michael Laudrup during the summer. More consistency in the team’s performances and a significant improvement on the fragile nature of the Saints defence would no doubt turn them into a formidable unit, no longer considered a likely relegation candidate.
Were he to leave however, then both the stability of the club’s long-term progress and futures of key assets such as promising left-back Luke Shaw, midfielder Gaston Ramirez striker Rickie Lambert would no doubt be called into question.
More importantly perhaps is the question who could possibly be drafted in as Pochettino’s replacement. The reputations of now out-of-work British managers Mark Hughes and Martin O’Neil have taken a serious hit in the last twelve months, whilst any move for promising lower-level managers such as Gus Poyet or Gianfranco Zola may prove unpopular given the fact that Nigel Adkins was sacked having guided the Saints to back-to-back promotions and a position in which they still had a real chance of Premier League survival.
Lastly, the arrival of another foreign manager may neither sit well with the fans or the players. Thus the stories emerging will no doubt be troubling to Saints fans revelling in the safety of a second successive season in the top flight, having spent so long in the elite wilderness.
Fears may also be aroused of a return to previous years in which numerous managers have come and gone in a short period of time (indeed the club had a total of six different managers between January 2008 and Adkin’s appointment in September 2010).
Hopefully for them, both Pochettino and Cortese, who has significantly invested in the club – notably the £12m record signing of Ramirez – will remain at the club for both the foreseeable and long-term future.
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