Between the lines: Mark Hughes blasts media’s sacking agenda and defends Southampton record

Southampton manager Mark Hughes, who has overseen just five wins in 22 games, has taken the remarkable stance of defending his record by blaming the media for setting a sacking agenda.

What’s he said?

Speaking ahead of Southampton’s showdown with Manchester United on Saturday, Hughes has been quoted by the Independent as saying his record at the Saints would look far better if positive results would turn their form around.

“It [his record] is what a lack of positive results brings,” he said. “In this day and age sometimes there are media outlets that find it is in their interest to try and set the agenda, when really it is not backed up by the actual facts and reality of the situation.

“The truth of the matter is, and I have said this for several weeks, if you gain good results, the pressure goes away to somebody else.

“I am not the only manager in charge of a football club which is down at the bottom [of the table] and maybe is underachieving at the moment, I just seem to be getting the brunt of the speculation.

“I know how this game works. It is not a problem, it is people doing their business, but when it is a little bit obvious and when people try to set the agenda for the benefit of themselves that is when I rile against it.

“The pressure will build until we get maximum points from Premier League games, but we are not very far away.”

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What does he mean?

Hughes will be feeling the pressure from presiding over a side in the bottom three, it is not just “water off a duck’s back”. Southampton have been appalling in the Premier League and it is his responsibility to turn things around.

A manager should always try and deflect the blame away from his players to alleviate some of the pressure, but the buck still stops with Hughes and only Hughes.

When will it turn around?

The mystical burst of good performances the Welshman alludes to cannot and will not come, at least any time soon. One good game will not fix the crucial issues the club faces.

Saints played well in moments against Fulham and were unfortunate to come away empty-handed following Stuart Armstrong’s brace, and followed the display with a draw over ninety minutes at Leicester in the Carabao Cup, but still, the results were not there.

Southampton now face Manchester United on Saturday, and they too are underperforming, but it would be a miracle if even a shock result at St. Mary’s for Hughes’ men would spark a resurgence.