Despite leading the club to the EFL Cup final and an eighth-place finish in the Premier League, a lack of goals and defensive style of football saw Claude Puel get the boot after just one season in charge of Southampton back in June.
The south coast finished may have only finished two spots below where they did the previous year despite losing key players like Graziano Pelle, Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane, but they picked up 17 fewer points and scored 18 fewer goals.
Puel’s side failed to find the net in six of their final eight top flight fixtures and that proved to be the final straw for the supporters, Les Reed and Ralph Krueger.
Having taken Alaves to a ninth-place finish and the Copa del Rey final last term, Saints decided to appoint Mauricio Pellegrino as their new manager during the summer and the Argentine would have been tasked with entertaining the St Mary’s faithful more than his predecessor did.
While he has been the number two at Liverpool and had a short spell in charge of Valencia previously, the 46-year-old is still relatively inexperienced so Southampton fans certainly would have been a little cautious when he was appointed, although they would have remembered having similar feelings when Mauricio Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins in 2013.
The pre-season results were perhaps understandably up and down – the 4-0 defeat against Augsburg at St Mary’s stood out though – with the players adapting to a new manager and style of football, but the opening day fixture against Swansea certainly showed some promise.
Southampton should have run out comfortable winners against the Welsh outfit after having 29 efforts at goal, but just two of those were on target and it was the same old problem for the south coast outfit.
With their previously-scheduled away fixture against West Ham being swapped to a home one because of the 2017 Athletics Championships being held at the London Stadium, Pellegrino had the opportunity to pick up a first Premier League win against an Irons side that had been beaten 4-0 by Manchester United the previous weekend.
Despite Slaven Bilic’s side having Marko Arnautovic sent off early on Saints holding a 2-0 lead, they let Javier Hernandez score either side of half-time and were unfortunate to secure the win thanks to Charlie Austin’s last-gasp penalty.
Southampton went goalless in the following fixtures against Huddersfield Town and Watford – in which they were booed off at half-time and full-time in the 2-0 defeat – while they were knocked out of the EFL Cup after being beaten by the same scoreline against Championship outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Mary’s.
The following fixture against Crystal Palace was an important one for both sides with the Eagles yet to score a goal or pick up a point, but Steven Davis’ goal in a 1-0 win boosted Pellegrino after the previous disappointing showing against the Hornets.
Narrow defeats against Manchester United and Stoke City have followed, meaning the club has taken eight points from their opening seven Premier League fixtures of the season.
Considering that Manchester United are the only current top seven team they have faced in that period, it is a somewhat disappointing return for a club that is looking to qualify for European football again.
While Southampton kept hold of the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Ryan Bertrand during the summer transfer window, as well as adding Mario Lemina and Wesley Hoedt, the failure to bring in an attacking player before the window slammed shut seems to be costing the team right now, and is placing extra pressure upon Pellegrino’s shoulders.
Shane Long, who hasn’t scored a goal for Saints or the Republic of Ireland since February, has led the line in the last three league games, while Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic certainly aren’t at their best right now.
With fixtures against Newcastle, Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion to come in October, it is certainly a crucial month for Pellegrino as he looks to win over the Saints supporters and get a team that has now failed to score in 10 of their last 15 Premier League matches back on track.
Pellegrino may still be in the early days of his Southampton managerial career, but the pressure is building with the team still struggling to click in the final third and the fact that he seems unwilling to change from the 4-2-3-1 formation even though it doesn’t appear to be working from an attacking point of view.
Newcastle have taken three points from a possible nine away from home so far this season and with the two defeats coming against fellow newly-promoted teams Huddersfield and Brighton, Saints will know that this is another ideal opportunity to take a much-needed three points at St Mary’s.
While that and producing a good performance on the pitch will be the aim – and one that would help to convince Reed, Krueger and the supporters that Pellegrino is the right man for the job – the Argentine simply can’t afford for another Watford style result in this clash against the Magpies.
If Saints were to lose a third successive Premier League match and slip even closer to the relegation zone, there is no doubt that the south coast outfit may think about making a change after showing with the dismissal of Puel that they can be ruthless.