Tuesday 24 September 2019

Hughes wants results to end speculation over his Southampton future

The Saints have won only once in the Premier League this season.

Southampton manager Mark Hughes has shrugged off speculation about his future (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Southampton manager Mark Hughes has shrugged off speculation about his future (Andrew Matthews/PA)

By Phil Blanche, Press Association Sport

Mark Hughes plans to silence the “noise” around his future as Southampton provide Claudio Ranieri’s first opposition as Fulham manager.

Hughes finds himself the favourite to be the next Premier League boss sacked after bottom-placed Fulham changed managers during the international break by replacing Slavisa Jokanovic with Ranieri.

Southampton are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference and have gone eight games without a league win.

But Saints boss Hughes shrugged off talk of his future before the crunch trip to Craven Cottage by saying: “There will always be speculation and I call it noise.

“Once a manager departs after a lot of noise that noise switches to someone else and all the negative stats come out.

“A little bit of the noise is around me at the moment which is the nature of the role that I have. It will go away with a few good results.

“It becomes a little bit predictable and you understand how it works.

“After 20 years doing this job, it’s nothing I haven’t seen and dealt with before. It’s part of the job and doesn’t faze me.”

Hughes succeeded Mauricio Pellegrino in March with Southampton in the middle of a relegation dogfight.

The Welshman kept Saints up and signed a three-year contract in May, but he has won only three of his 20 league games at St Mary’s and defeat at Craven Cottage could drop Southampton into the bottom three.

“We’re calm, that’s the key,” former Fulham boss Hughes said.

“That’s helped by my demeanour. I don’t feel the need to get panicked because I’m confident in the ability of the group and the club.

“Are we doing as bad as people are saying? I don’t think so because in almost every game we’ve played we’ve been competitive.

“We don’t feel here that we are a million miles away from what we need to do.

“You don’t get too giddy when you are doing well, and you don’t get too down when things aren’t going your way.”

Southampton are currently engaged in an internal review following the sackings of vice-chairman Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter.

But Hughes insists that has not been a distraction as the Saints seek to kick-start their season.

“I think the players just get on with it,” he said.

“The club is looking to strengthen the areas that it feels it needs to, but it’s not a case of ripping the template up because there is no need to do that.

“A lot of the things they do here are spot on in terms of getting what they need from all elements of the club.

“There isn’t a lot that we are doing wrong here, but the club felt that we maybe needed to be a little bit more open about things to see if that would help us.”

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