Saints to Survive: 4 Reasons Why Mark Hughes' Appointment Will Keep Southampton Up

After sacking Mauricio Pellegrino with eight games left in the season, Southampton appointed ex-Stoke boss Mark Hughes to try and stave off relegation.


The Welshman has flown under the radar in his career with mixed spells at Manchester City and QPR, but performed far beyond his remit at Blackburn and Stoke, holding the distinction of never being relegated from the top flight.


He has brought immediate success to St Mary's, winning his first game in charge as Southampton beat Wigan 2-0 to advance to a first FA Cup semi-final since 2003, and will look to use the momentum to keep the south coast club up in the final two months of the season.


Here are 4 reasons why Hughes' appointment will keep Southampton in the Premier League.

4. No-Nonsense Approach

Hughes has been known to favour a direct brand of football throughout his career, only recently moving to a more passing-based game at Stoke with the arrivals of flair players such as Bojan and Xherdan Shaqiri.


In an interview following their win on Sunday, Ryan Bertrand praised the 'back to basics' approach the manager has taken in his first few days at the club, believing the change of tack could be the difference to keep them in the league next season.


Southampton lined up with a classic 4-4-2 at the DW Stadium and the decision paid off, with Guido Carrillo and Manolo Gabbiadini causing no end of problems to the Latics defence in the second half.

3. Trusting Manolo Gabbiadini

Hughes handed Gabbiadini a return to the starting eleven against Wigan after a period of wretched form in which he has scored only once since October.


The Italian played well, linking up with Guido Carrillo to create several chances - though he did have a second-half penalty saved by the excellent Christian Walton. Following his £15million move from Napoli last January, the striker had a hot start, scoring six times in his first four matches to immediately endear himself to the St. Mary's faithful.


With only four goals this season, Gabbiadini has had a poor return on his reported £17m transfer fee. But remarkably, he still sits as the club's second top scorer behind the injury-plagued Charlie Austin. Gabbiadini is a confidence-shy striker, and if he can find the net a couple of times, he has the potential to hit a purple patch and keep Southampton safe, vindicating Hughes' trust in him.

2. Prioritising Home Form

With a trip to the Emirates and home games against Chelsea and Manchester City before the end of the season, you would be forgiven for thinking Southampton had one foot in the Championship, with a harder run-in than some of their relegation rivals.


However their home form, whilst draw-heavy, has not been bad against the better clubs this season, earning points against Arsenal and Tottenham, and demolishing Everton 4-1 in November. Hughes has a reputation of pulling out his best performances when under pressure, and this should be no different.


With City and Arsenal both still harbouring European aspirations, they may very well rest players and such a decision could allow the Saints a golden opportunity to pick up points. Hughes has been known to make home form pivotal, beating Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United at the Britannia on several occasions.


If he can rouse the squad to perform at their best in those matches, there is no reason why they cannot win one or two of those games towards the tail end of the season.

1. Premier League Experience

Over the past few years, chairman Ralph Krueger has placed his faith in unproven foreign managers such as Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman and Claude Puel, all to varying degrees of success, with prior Premier League experience seemingly not necessary.


You have to go back to 2009 and the arrival of Alan Pardew when the club were in League One to find the last managerial appointment with any previous top-flight work.


Mark Hughes is a proven commodity in England's top league, spending the past 14 years at the helm of five different Premier League clubs after his departure from the Welsh national team in 2004, guiding unheralded Blackburn to a remarkable sixth-place finish in 2006. Recently, he led Stoke to three successive ninth-place finishes after succeeding Tony Pulis in 2013.


Despite the poor end to his tenure at the Britannia, you have to think the Welshman has enough managerial clout to navigate Southampton away from the bottom three.


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