Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrino does not fear Southampton sack despite latest loss

Mauricio Pellegrino insisted he does not fear for his position as Southampton manager despite supporters chanting for his dismissal as a 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace left Saints in 17th place.

His predecessor Claude Puel was sacked after an eighth-placed finish and a run to the League Cup final last season, but under Argentinian Pellegrino they have become contenders for relegation.

Shane Long's first goal in 325 days gave them the lead at St Mary's but a display devoid of confidence ensured Palace's recovery via goals from James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic.

Earlier on Tuesday club chairman Ralph Krueger had voiced his support for his manager, but after the fans again turned against him, Pellegrino said: "I feel fear for other things, not about football. In football I don't feel fear.

"I feel responsible, I am disappointed because we lost, but it's not fear. I feel fear for other things.

"The big risk in our job is to work in this job. I prefer to assume risk; I prefer to make mistakes instead of (not) do anything. Everybody, we are responsible.

"Ralph is a man of sport. He understands what people need in this environment and that everybody here is part of a context. We work to take responsibility for our acts, but are together to try to improve.

"It was a difficult night because it changed completely in the second half, when we showed another face in the first half. We gave them the possibility to be in the game, and played five metres deeper in the second half and gave Palace (a chance) with every single long ball. We never read the game, and the conditions.

"It's the lack of confidence; sometimes we'd pass backwards, just to pass the time, because you want to keep the result. The lack of confidence affects everything, and we have to react because we're in a difficult moment."

Southampton last won in November, but asked if he felt he could inspire an improvement, Pellegrino said: "Yes for sure. I'm responsible for this, and our mentality."

Victory took Palace up to 14th, and gave them a positive development after Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon were ruled out of the rest of the season with knee injuries sustained in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Manchester City

"In the first half we looked like a team that'd had a very tough game (against City) a couple of days ago," said manager Roy Hodgson.

"The heaviness of the pitch and our legs meant the first-half performance was nothing like the performance we were hoping to give, but in the second it was almost exactly like the one we were hoping to give."

Asked about their latest recovery, he said: " That's what this group of players are: there's character and determination. For any team in this league, if you can look back on 11 games and have only lost one of them, and that was at home to Arsenal in a good performance, you've got to be very, very satisfied.

"After seven games we were on the canvas and it is an incredible achievement to get into the group of teams who could be relegated, rather than propping up the league."


From Belfast Telegraph