Mauricio Pellegrino can count himself incredibly lucky to still be in a job if he indeed remains as Southampton manager following his team’s latest humiliating performance.
The Argentine has won just five of his 30 league games as Saints manager, with the only ray of light under his reign being a run to the FA Cup quarter final.
The Newcastle game was seen as a must win. The Magpies were a point ahead of Saints at the start of play, and following dropped points against Burnley and Stoke, this was one of the last winnable games that Pellegrino’s side had left to play.
Despite the importance of the game, though, the side applied themselves with the same lack of intensity, the same lack of attacking intent, and, quite frankly, the same lack of effort that has characterised the season as a whole.
Pellegrino’s team selection set the tone for the game. Josh Sims was dropped despite being one of the only players to come out of the Stoke game positively. This is just the latest example of Pellegrino dropping players after playing well, leading to the disjointed performances and inability to create any sort of momentum that we have seen all season.
Saints boasted 63% of the possession, but once again failed to do anything with the ball. Against a Newcastle side with one of the weaker defences in the league, Saints managed just one shot in the first half.
The boss came out after the game and said: “I haven’t seen a performance like that all season.”
Fans will certainly disagree with that. Take the 5-2 Boxing day loss at Spurs, a 3-0 loss at Liverpool, losing 2-0 at home to Watford, or the 4-1 loss at home to Claude Puel’s Leicester.
The Saints face a break from league action as they face Wigan in the FA Cup next weekend, and there is an international break before the next round of league fixtures, where Saints travel to fellow crisis club West Ham.
Surely now is the perfect time to give a new manager time to bed in, learn about the squad, and prepare for the final run-in. Of course, the board is far too stubborn to do this, and fans will be met with yet more inaction and silence.
The problems with Southampton FC go far deeper than Pellegrino, but what is for sure is, that with him at the helm, the Championship awaits.