It has been a season of highs and lows for Claude Puel during his debut term as manager of Southampton Football Club.
The Frenchman took the Saints to the brink of their first major trophy since 1976, and despite a heroic performance that saw a goal wrongly ruled out for offside, it was to be Manchester United to claim the silverware following a 3-2 victory.
Puel, has been successful in maintaining Southampton’s Premier League status and squad happiness, whilst dealing with some serious fixture congestion following the cup run and the Europa League group stages.
However, a cup final and another season in the top flight doesn’t appear to be enough for Saints fans and perhaps the board, much of the disappointment stemming from the lack of fight shown to try and remain in the Europa League.
St Mary’s has played host to some dire football matches this season, most recently against Hull City, a 0-0 draw, and it is games like this that have caused Puel to come under attack.
The slow and somewhat tiresome build-up play displayed through large parts of this season is a far cry from the high-intensity, pressing football overseen by previous managers Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman.
It wouldn’t be surprising or unreasonable for the Southampton board to give Puel another season without the Europa League. However, should they choose to move on, here are three managers that would be realistic options…
By far the bookies favourite, Marco Silva could be the man to replace Puel and the Portuguese is certainly a realistic option for Southampton.
Hull City were bottom of the Premier League when he took over, and looked very likely to be relegated, but the Tigers now find themselves in a two-way battle with Swansea City to remain amongst England’s elite.
The 39-year old has introduced an attacking, passing style of play to his team, something rarely seen from sides who are fighting for their lives, and it is this mentality that would see him welcomed on the south-coast.
If Hull fail in their battle to beat the drop, it would provide a monumental boost for the Saints’ in their pursuit of the former Sporting Lisbon manager.
Leeds United Head Coach and former Saints player, Garry Monk, has recently been linked with the managers’ job at Southampton, as HITC.com divulge in their in-depth article, in which they reference reports from the Mirror.
Should the club opt for a change during the off season, he could be an astute option.
The 38-year old already boasts managerial experience in the Premier League following his stint at Swansea City, during which his side displayed exciting, attacking football, taking them to an eighth place finish in the 2014/15 season.
Monk and Leeds came agonisingly close to a Championship play-off spot this term and the disappointment of falling short at the final hurdle could be enough for the Saints to lure him away from the Yorkshire club.
The appointment of the Englishman could have other benefits, as Southampton have also been linked, as reports in the Daily Star suggest, to Swedish defender Pontus Jansson who has impressed under Monk at Elland Road this season.
Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery had been linked with the Southampton hot seat whilst the Spaniard was at Sevilla, but nothing ever materialised beyond speculation.
However, it has been a tough first season with the French giants who look set to miss out on the Ligue 1 title for the first time since 2012 and multiple media outlets, including Corriere dello Sport, have claimed that Emery could depart as early as this summer.
Having won the Europa League in three consecutive seasons during his time in Sevilla, the 45-year-old is likely to be the most expensive and certainly the most unrealistic, but the wealth of the Premier League could be enough to tempt him.
Southampton will be aiming to force their way back into European contention next season and the capture of Emery would be an almighty statement if the south-coast club were able to snap him up.
The gap between the top seven and the rest of the Premier League has grown even bigger following Leicester City’s triumph last season and so getting back into the Europa League will be harder than ever for the Saints.
All three managers provide something different in terms of experience, whether it be in European competition or the Premier League but the trio have also previously been praised for the way their teams play.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by indolivescore