Southampton have sacked Mauricio Pellegrino after a miserable run of one win in 17 Premier League matches left them embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation with nine games remaining.
The club are targeting a swift appointment – a third in less than two years – ideally before Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Wigan Athletic. They could, however, wait to name the Argentinian’s successor, because they have no league match until the end of this month, at West Ham on 31 March.
The new manager will need to galvanise a squad short on confidence. Marco Silva, the former Watford and Hull City manager who is now out of work, was once of interest to Saints, while Slavisa Jokanovic, the Fulham manager, has also previously been linked with the club.
Southampton, who sit just a point above the bottom three, face a challenging run-in, with only three home matches remaining, including the visits of Chelsea and Manchester City, the latter on the final day of the season.
“We would like to place on record our thanks to Mauricio, Carlos and Xavier for their efforts during their time with Southampton, and wish them well for the future,” read a club statement on Monday evening. “The club will look to appoint a new management team as soon as possible.” The assistant manager, Carlos Compagnucci, and the assistant first-team coach, Xavier Tamarit, have also left .
Ralph Krueger, the Saints chairman, offered his full backing to Pellegrino in January, sympathising with the knock-on effect of Virgil van Dijk’s protracted transfer to Liverpool, but a chastening 3-0 defeat by Newcastle on Saturday proved a tipping point. Saints relieved the former Alavés manager of his duties nine months after he replaced Claude Puel. He is the top-flight’s ninth managerial casualty since August.
Southampton have won only five league games this season, two of them against the bottom club, West Bromwich Albion. Pellegrino was expected to bring an attacking brand of front-foot football to St Mary’s but his team have struggled to convince and a conservative style of play has frustrated supporters.
Saints said the search for a new manager was “already underway”.