Sports

Mauricio Pellegrino apologises for leaving Southampton in relegation battle after being sacked

Mauricio Pellegrino apologises for leaving Southampton in relegation battle after being sacked

Mauricio Pellegrino admits he paid the price for Southampton's dismal form after he was sacked as manager just nine months into his reign at the Premier League club.

Whoever takes up the role will have a hard job on their hands to keep them in the English top-flight, especially as they still have to face Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City.

"I think that was probably something that, looking back with hindsight, the club would probably regret, trying to keep him in the summer", said Le Tissier, who scored 209 goals for Southampton during his 16 years at the club.

"I have to say thanks to Ralph (Krueger, club chairman), to the board, to Les (Reed, executive director) and Ross (Wilson, director of recruitment and scouting), all my technical staff and all the Southampton employees".

He will have eight games to ensure Southampton avoid relegation.

Southampton's predicament, and the fact that Hughes is the strongest candidate that ticks their boxes, means that the 54-year-old manager holds some leverage over the club he played for more than 50 times in the 1990s.

Mark Hughes is the current odds-on bookmakers' favourite, while former Watford and Hull City boss Marco Silva is also said to be in the hunt. Hughes is sixth on the Premier League list for matches managed behind Arsène Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes and Sam Allardyce.

Southampton are hoping to have Pellegrino's successor in place for Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan and Press Association Sport understands talks are under way with former Saints player Hughes.

The Welshman has taken charge of 445 Premier League matches for Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR and Stoke.