Since returning to the Premier League under Nigel Adkins, Southampton have made four managerial changes, with almost all of them coming as a surprise. With the appointment of Mauricio Pellegrino, they’ve stuck to that pattern.
Named as The Boot Room’s manager of the season in our La Liga 2016/17 awards, the Argentine has all the attributes to follow in the footsteps of Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman in enjoying success on the south coast.
Here are three reasons why Pellegrino could be a hit…
1) He works well on a budget with big changes in his squad
When appointed at Alaves last summer after their manager was fired in bizarre circumstances having won promotion to the top flight, Pellegrino had a big job on his hands.
With 19 arrivals and 18 departures last summer, it made Southampton’s usual transfer turnaround look easy. Having lost key players like Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren in recent years, this experience could be crucial, especially with Virgil Van Dijk and Dusan Tadic both linked with a move away.
At Alaves, Pellegrino worked on one of the smaller budgets in the top flight, and whilst he will have more money to spend at St. Mary’s, the more prudent he can be the better.
2) He’s got a good record in cup competitions
Last season saw Alaves reach only their second ever cup final as they lost out to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final in the last ever competitive match at the Vicente Calderón. It put an end to a remarkable run which included a surprise win over Celta Vigo in the semi-final over two legs.
With league success increasingly difficult as the top six edge away from the crowd with their financial power, cup competitions are increasingly important for clubs like Southampton.
However, cup success is not enough as shown by the sacking of Claude Puel despite reaching the EFL Cup final. Pellegrino showed that last season too, finishing 9th in the league despite a cup run and huge changes to the squad after promotion.
3) He’s got experience of the English game
Having played and worked in Spain for most of his career, Pellegrino also has experience across the globe. Having spent spells in charge at Estudiantes and Independiente, the 45-year-old rebuilt his managerial career after being sacked by Valencia.
It was in the Premier League where he got his first shot at coaching, under Rafa Benitez at Liverpool. Having played under the Newcastle boss at Valencia and at Anfield, he joined his backroom staff on Merseyside and followed him to Inter Milan before trying management himself.
The ex-central defender will have learnt a lot from that spell in the Premier League. Having worked so closely with someone as experienced as Benitez, he will certainly look to benefit from some friendly advice from his mentor.
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