Stale Southampton have lost their way under Mauricio Pellegrino | Ben Fisher

The club seems to be stalling and the emphasis on affording first-team opportunities to players from the esteemed academy has been slowly eroded

When Claude Puel was sacked last June, there was tangible excitement among Southampton supporters ready to enjoy a season without the shackles. But seven months on there is little of that desired zest or swagger where Mauricio Pellegrino’s side are concerned and the possibility of relegation to the Championship – the club are outside the bottom three only on goal difference before Saturday’s trip to Watford – suggests regression.

After one win from their past 13 league matches, it was not surprising that Pellegrino was forced to bat away questions over his immediate future and whether he fears becoming the eighth Premier League managerial casualty of the season at his pre-match press conference on Thursday. “It’s part of our job,” he said. “For every manager, the biggest risk in football is to work in football.”

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