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How Mauricio Pellegrino can win over the Southampton fans

Saturday 1st July 2017
Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman are two previous Southampton managers still highly regarded in spite of the fact that both, obviously, used the club as a ladder towards greater things. Hence, what should new coach, Mauricio Pellegrino do to join that elite club?

If many Saints fans had their way, they'd probably erase Claude Puel's extremely blighted and somewhat stagnant spell from the club's history. Not that the Frenchman was totally a failure; an EFL Cup final and eighth-place finish affirms that. Neither is he the worst manager in the club's history. At least he did remarkably well when matched side by side with the likes of Harry Redknapp and Nigel Pearson.

Yet, the 55-year-old's biggest undoing was his grim relationship with the fans themselves; all through his time at the South Coast. It was so bad that they even jeered him with chants of “you don't know what you're doing, you're getting sacked in the morning" during the club's final game of the season against Stoke City. As expected, the ex-Monaco coach received the boot afterwards.

So to avoid similar backlash from the fans, here is what Pellegrino should do.

1 - Keep Van Dijk and the club's best players

To begin with, Pellegrino must try to convince his superiors about the need to keep hold of their best players, albeit decision making isn't up to him. He should at least attempt to buck that ugly trend of auctioning their star players to rival teams. Last season, Puel's inability to stamp his authority led to the exit of Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and José Fonte. Now, Pellegrino must avoid the same, especially with the ever increasing suitors courting Virgil van Dijk and Cédric Soares.

2 - Inject marquee signings

OK, perhaps the Argentine succumbs to pressure, then he should proceed swiftly to replace them with glamour signings. This way, the fans may forgive him, that's if the new arrivals hit the ground running almost immediately. Puel failed in that regard after allowing Fonte join West Ham, ultimately the genesis of his dreadful feud with the fans. We expect this to resurface should Pellegrino do likewise.

3 - Play beautiful football

Perhaps the most pressing of all. Saints fans aren't asking too much of Pellegrino; they solely want to be entertained, period. That wasn't the case last season under Puel where Southampton entirely lost their identity. The tactician's old-fashioned philosophy and obnoxious brand of football indeed irked the fans. But the most annoying was his tactical rigidity and naivety. As we all know, Pellegrino's approach is a little more attacking minded; always willing to take risks and tinker things. However, he mustn't be compelled into altering his own ideals.

4 - Win more games at home

Southampton were pretty awful at home last season. So bad that only the Stadium of Light suffered as much as St Mary's for goals: 17 in 19 matches and none in their last 455 minutes of football. This could be the real test for Pellegrino, whose Alaves team struggled for cutting edge last season, scoring just 41 goals. The Argentine must look for a way to get the Saints marching once again at home or forthwith march out.

5 - Charisma, passion and enthusiasm

Not only were Saints fans bored of Puel's tactics but his personality too. Unlike many modern-day managers who radiates so much energy and charisma on the touchline, Puel is quite the exact opposite, always calm and quiet. Well, Pellegrino will certainly not lose his sleep over that. He is known to be a very passionate character on the sideline, as he once dislocated his shoulder when giving instructions to his player.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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