Friday 25 May 2018

Hughes feels relegation chill despite first Saints point

Leicester City 0 Southhampton 0

Southampton's Charlie Austin (centre) in action. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Southampton's Charlie Austin (centre) in action. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

John Percy

It may have been the warmest day of the year but Mark Hughes can still feel the icy chill of the relegation trapdoor.

Southampton remain in deep trouble despite picking up their first Premier League point under their new manager, with the prospect of dropping into the Championship appearing increasingly possible.

This had all the trademark signs of a struggling team down on their luck as they wasted a number of chances to leave Hughes preparing for Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea with a far bigger weight on his shoulders.

Southampton are now four points adrift of safety with four games left and this will feel like another chance missed, against former manager Claude Puel.

Southampton's Nathan Redmond in action with Leicester City's Adrien Silva. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters
Southampton's Nathan Redmond in action with Leicester City's Adrien Silva. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters

He was dismissed at the end of last season, after guiding Southampton to an eighth-place finish and their first major final since 1979 in the League Cup. They must feel like halcyon days now.

Read more: Chelsea extras grind out win in rare cameos

Battle Puel is facing a new battle of his own at Leicester, as he bids to convince the owners that he can take the club forward next season, and this stalemate will do little to ease the growing scepticism.

Sunday's trip to Wembley must feel like an unwanted distraction for Hughes, who is in danger of suffering the ignominy of seeing both Southampton and former club Stoke relegated in the same season.

Southampton improved after a slow start and wasted a decent early chance when an unmarked Dusan Tadic sliced wide from 18 yards. In a flat first half, Cedric Soares also volleyed wide from Shane Long's cross.

Hughes introduced Charlie Austin for the final 18 minutes in a bid to find a winner but it was Leicester who finished stronger. They have not won a league game at home since January 20 and the boos at the end were inevitable. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Leicester City's Demarai Gray (right) and Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg battle for the ball. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Leicester City's Demarai Gray (right) and Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg battle for the ball. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Telegraph.co.uk

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