Sunday 20 August 2017

Southampton draw up managerial shortlist with Claude Puel 'expected to be dismissed'

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Southampton are expected to dismiss Claude Puel this month, and have approached Hull City manager Marco Silva to gauge his interest in taking over at St Mary’s next season.

Silva will be a free agent if Hull are relegated and he is on Southampton’s shortlist if, as expected, Puel leaves the club after just one campaign at the helm on the south coast.

Puel’s position will be formally reviewed at the end of the season and Southampton insist they will not make any decisions on their manager until then. But the Frenchman is pessimistic about his chances of staying and with good reason - Saints have already started sounding out candidates via intermediaries to replace him.

Carlos Carvalhal of Sheffield Wednesday is another on Saints’ radar, having considered him before opting for Puel a year ago.

But the 53-year-old Carvalhal is in the midst of a playoff battle with the Owls and has never managed in the English top flight, whereas Silva has impressed many since taking over at Hull City in January. He inherited a team heading for certain relegation and has given them a fighting chance of safety, even after having to sell Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass.

Silva signed an 18-month deal when he joined, but one with a break clause this summer if Hull are relegated. That means that he could well be a free agent this summer.

In the same way that Carvalhal is refusing to entertain any offers until Wednesday’s promotion bid is over – one way or another - Silva and his representatives have been very clear that his only focus this month is on trying to keep Hull in the Premier League.

They are currently one point behind Swansea City with two games left, although they have the harder fixtures, against Crystal Palace away and Tottenham Hotspur at home. Swansea, who have a better goal difference than Hull, face relegated Sunderland away then West Bromwich Albion at home.

While Saints would be an attractive option if Hull go down and Silva leaves, there is also potential interest from FC Porto, currently coached by Nuno Espirito Santo. Silva has not worked in Portugal since being dismissed by Sporting CP in June 2015 but the opportunity to work at Porto would appeal to him if it were offered.

(© Independent News Service)

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