In just one week from now, Mauricio Pochettino will have officially been the manager at Southampton for two months, and while things have not gone dreadfully wrong for the Saints in the short time he’s been with them. I’m still yet to be convinced that he is the right man for the job in both the long-term and short-term future.
Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese came under heavy fire in January for sacking then manager Nigel Adkins despite the club sitting 3 points clear of the relegation zone in 15th place with a +15 better goal difference than 18th placed Aston Villa at the time. Adkins reward for earning a hard-fought point in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was receiving his notice saying that he was being replaced by someone who had already lost a managerial job with Espanyol earlier in the season and that the decision was made with the clubs long-term future in mind.
Since taking over, Pochettino has been in charge for 7 Premier League games and his record currently stands at 1 win, 3 draws and 3 losses. While it isn’t a bad record and they still remain outside the bottom three, they do have some really tough fixtures coming up which will test the team to see whether they’ve really got what it takes to stay in the country’s top division.
With his English still not at its best, any communication he has to give his players needs to come from his coaches to be translated to the players and vice versa. While in some cases this isn’t a problem, this does take up a lot more time than usual and runs the risk of some messages being lost in translation and when you are in a relegation battle the last thing you need is communication problems to add to your already increasing struggle to try and beat the drop. I suspect that if he is still around next season, he will have worked on his speaking skills a great deal over the Summer months and will not need a translator for interviews anymore, but by then the damage may well have already been done and Southampton could be back playing in The Championship again and he then faces the new challenge of trying to get them back up again.
If Southampton finish 17th or higher this season, I still don’t see what Pochettino can offer them in the long-term based on what I’ve read about his past experience as a manager. The chairman wants to turn the Saints into an established Premier League side again which is completely understandable and they do have the resources to do so, but if he was determined to get rid of Nigel Adkins, he should of looked to have replaced him with somebody who has experience of doing similar work with another team or at least somebody who has experience managing in the Premier League. Pochettino has no experience playing or managing in England and while he did spend 3 and a half years managing Espanyol, they were already an established La Liga side and all he ever achieved at the club was finishing in the mid-table positions every season and never managing to qualify for any European tournaments.
While it might seem like I’m completely against Pochettino being in the St Mary’s hot seat, I have nothing personal against him and I do wish him the best of luck in trying to keep Southampton in the Premier League as they do possess a group of players with great potential and I would love to see those players playing in the top flight again next season. I’m still to be won over by the former Argentine national defender and I don’t know if that will change in the very near future. But if by the start of next season he’s managed to get the right results and keep Southampton up and is seen to be doing some good transfer business during the off-season then that may well force me into a position where I might have to consider changing my mind.