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Three reasons why Mauricio Pellegrino is the ideal choice as Southampton’s new manager

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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.

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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.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Fotos Fútbol Argentina.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

English Premier League

Tottenham should target Mario Lemina as long-term Mousa Dembele replacement

The Lilywhites should begin planning for life after the Belgian international.

Jake Jackman

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Mario Lemina
Photo: Getty Images

The upcoming summer is going to be important for every top-six team for different reasons and they will all be looking to compete for the title.

Tottenham have been on the brink of achieving something special under Mauricio Pochettino. They have established themselves as a regular Champions League team and have played some excellent football, but they have yet to deliver a title challenge from post to post and that is their next challenge.

Throughout his time in North London, Pochettino has been reluctant to spend big money on a ready-made world-class player. The Argentine prefers to sign potential and mould a player in his own image. This summer, he will need to strengthen his squad once again as he lacks depth in a couple of positions.

One area of the pitch that he will look to add reinforcements is central midfield. Mousa Dembele has been the star in that position, but he is now 30 and he can’t be expected to play every match across all competitions.

Meanwhile, Victor Wanyama has only played 14 times in the Premier League and seems out of favour with Pochettino. Eric Dier and Harry Winks are both good options, but neither have pushed on in the way that Tottenham would have hoped.

There is a lot of quality in the middle of the park at Tottenham, but there haven’t been two players to make the positions their own. The answer to their midfield problems could come from an unlikely place.

Southampton have been a good stepping stone club since their return to the Premier League and, despite their impending relegation, they could have one more jewel worth pursuing.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Mario Lemina has had a mixed first season in England, but there is no doubting his quality in midfield areas. The Gabon international arrived from Juventus and it was considered a coup at the time. He may not have thrived in the manner many expected, but it has been tough to shine in a team battling relegation.

He is a similar midfielder to Dembele in many aspects. Lemina is very effective at winning possession and he is comfortable with the ball at his feet. The 24-year-old averages 2.3 dribbles per game, which is only fractionally lower than the 2.5 managed by the Tottenham midfielder.

Considering Lemina is playing his first season in a new country, this is an encouraging stat and suggests he can become the powerful ball-carrier that Dembele has been in recent seasons. In terms of regaining possession, the Southampton man averages 2.1 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes.

This is superior to Dembele, who averages 1.14 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes. There are times when players are stained by a relegation, but the stats underline the impact that Lemina has had on games since arriving in England and in a better team, he could be a revelation.

Southampton are not going to be in a strong negotiating position if they are relegated, as expected. Despite their struggles this season, they have a lot of quality in their squad and there won’t be a shortage of takers for a lot of their players.

Lemina is the standout in their squad and his experience with Juventus means that he has the mentality to step up to one of the top six clubs. He looks a perfect fit for Tottenham and would be a great long-term replacement for Dembele.

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English Premier League

Southampton could be left looking foolish as Matt Targett pushes for promotion

The England under-21 international is hoping to win promotion with Fulham.

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Fulham are firmly in the fight for promotion to the Premier League. The Cottagers are chasing Cardiff City in the hunt for the automatic places and will have a shot at the play-offs if they do not make it into the top two. Fulham’s brilliant form has been largely down to the arrival of a loan signing from the Premier League. Despite Newcastle United’s own struggles, Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent to Craven Cottage to try and find some form. The Serbian has done just that, scoring goals for fun in West London. But the impact of another loanee cannot be understated.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Matt Targett arrived from Southampton at the end of January and has gone on to become an integral member of the Fulham first-team. Targett has played 15 times since his move to the club, even finding the back of the net once.

The Saints man has been solid defensively and a threat going forward for Slavisa Jokanovic’s men.

For Southampton, loaning him out could prove to make them look foolish. Whilst Fulham are pushing for promotion, Southampton are desperately scrapping against relegation from the Premier League.

Whilst Ryan Bertrand may be the out-and-out first choice at left-back Mark Hughes’ recent switch to a back three could certainly have seen Targett playing a role in the matchday squad at St Mary’s once again.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

But above anything else, it will be the principle of the matter.

Mauricio Pellegrino was not a fan of Targett and therefore sent him on his way, but he should still be around the club and making an impact in the fight for survival. The fact Southampton, who are currently five points adrift of safety, could get relegated whilst a player they loaned out wins promotion is just bad PR – pure and simple.

It will certainly be interesting to see just where Targett ends up next season, and which division he will be playing in.

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Everton

Would Tottenham or Everton be the best move for Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand?

The 28-year-old has been linked with a move away from the south coast this summer.

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Photo: Getty Images

After being told by Southampton bosses that the club could not afford to lose both him and Virgil Van Dijk in the same season, this summer may finally see Ryan Bertrand depart Saint Mary’s.

The Sun report that Manchester United, Tottenham, Everton and Newcastle are among the clubs interested in a £25 million bid this summer, following on from Manchester City‘s attempts to lure him north last summer.

The 28-year-old has again shown himself to be a reliable Premier League defender this season but faces a tough choice on where to go next with a departure looking likely as the Saints struggle at the wrong end of the table.

With Tottenham and Everton leading the way, it may not be a simple choice for the versatile defender.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

A move to Spurs would provide the ex-Chelsea man with a return to the Champions League, a competition he won whilst with the Blues, but would also face more of a challenge to walk straight into the first team.

Ben Davies has been performing well at left-back, with Danny Rose also still at the club despite injury problems, and so he may be forced into a less comfortable role on the left of a back three, a position which Jan Vertonghen has made his own.

At Goodison Park, Bertrand can see his role as a leader in the team right from day one. With Leighton Baines not getting any younger, the club is clearly on the look-out for a replacement and he could be that man.

The doubt over a move to the Toffees would be regarding the instability at the club. Sam Allardyce’s future is anything but certain and Bertrand’s loyalty to his previous two clubs may mean he seeks a long-term project and avoid adding to the list of expensive failures that Everton racked up last summer.

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