Le Tissier backs Hughes to save Saints

LONDON • Mark Hughes' vast Premier League experience and connection with Southampton make him the perfect choice to rescue the team from the threat of relegation, said former club captain Matt Le Tissier.

Southampton appointed Hughes on Wednesday as a replacement for Argentinian Mauricio Pellegrino, who was sacked as manager earlier this week with the south-coast club on 28 points and fourth from bottom in the standings, a point and a place above the drop zone.

"The situation we are in is not a great one and we don't need a manager coming in who doesn't know the players, doesn't know the league. So Mark would seem to be with the club's way of thinking," Le Tissier, who scored 209 goals for Southampton during his 16 years at the club, told Sky Sports.

Hughes, who spent two seasons at Southampton late in his playing career, was sacked by relegation-threatened Stoke City in January after an FA Cup third-round defeat by League Two (fourth tier) Coventry City. The former striker had guided the Potters to three successive top-10 finishes from the 2013-04 campaign.

"He obviously did not have a great season at Stoke this year but as far as I can remember I think it was the first time he had a team really struggling against relegation," Le Tissier added of the former Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers manager. Hughes, 54, has also managed his nation Wales, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers.

"He's managed some big teams. He has a wealth of experience of the game... but I'll keep my fingers crossed he can keep us up this season first and foremost, then get us to kick on again next season."

Hughes' first game will be an FA Cup tie at Wigan Athletic on Sunday but he knows that the Saints' principal focus is staying in the top flight.

"It's a challenge I'm excited by," he said. "It's a great opportunity to come back to a club I know well and a club I've got real affinity with, and I couldn't turn that down.

"I bring experience of the Premier League and I've won a lot of points in my career as a Premier League manager. I understand what it takes to win games in this league."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline 'Le Tissier backs Hughes to save Saints'. Print Edition | Subscribe