MAURI­CIO PELLEGRINO

SAM COX ex­am­ines the ca­reer of the new Southamp­ton man­ager…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Pro­file of the new Saints boss

WHEN ap­point­ing a new man­ager, it’s im­per­a­tive that thor­ough scout­ing has been done in or­der that the new boss fits the ethos of the club and that he is able to take it for­ward.

Whether this is style of play or man-man­age­ment, in the cur­rent cli­mate many foot­ball clubs can’t af­ford to ap­point the wrong man.

As many clubs strive to be ef­fi­cient and cor­rect in their scout­ing pol­icy, many would envy the sys­tem that Southamp­ton have in place.

Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino and Ron­ald Koe­man along­side Sa­dio Mane and Vir­gil van Dijk shows just how well Southamp­ton un­earth foot­balling gems on both man­age­ment and play­ing sides; but after a glis­ten­ing track record, Koe­man’s re­place­ment, Claude Puel, was sacked this sum­mer.

De­spite a top eight fin­ish and an EFL Cup fi­nal ap­pear­ance, re­ports of grow­ing un­rest be­tween play­ers and staff be­came com­mon which co­in­cided with stale and pre­dictable foot­ball on the pitch. Southamp­ton’s board were left with only one choice.

After an­other tran­si­tional sum­mer where Saints were search­ing for a new man­ager whilst bat­tling against in­ter­est in their top play­ers, they main­tained their scout­ing val­ues. After a few weeks of ex­am­in­ing po­ten­tial tar­gets, Mauri­cio Pellegrino was ap­pointed as Puel’s suc­ces­sor.

Last sea­son, Pellegrino led newly-pro­moted, Alaves to a ninth-place fin­ish in La Liga and to a Copa del Rey fi­nal, which they lost 3-1 to Barcelona.

Some would ar­gue that Alaves’ sea­son only mir­rors Southamp­ton’s but as the for­mer were La Liga new boys, they didn’t have the qual­ity squad of Southamp­ton.

With much bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties along­side a stronger squad, it’s ap­par­ent to see why Southamp­ton traded Puel for Pellegrino.

Pellegrino made his pro­fes­sional de­but in his home­land of Ar­gentina for Velez Sars­field in 1990 after break­ing through their youth ranks.

After an im­pres­sive eight years of ser­vice, Pellegrino swapped Ar­gentina for Spain as he joined Barcelona on a year-long loan spell.

After fea­tur­ing reg­u­larly for the Cata­lan gi­ants, he lifted the 1998/99 La Liga tro­phy but joined Va­len­cia, per­ma­nently, in the sum­mer.

Dur­ing his six-year stint at Va­len­cia, he was one of the first names on the team sheet as he won La Liga twice plus a UEFA Cup.

He signed a six-month con­tract with Liver­pool in Jan­uary 2005, link­ing up with for­mer Va­len­cia boss Rafa Ben­itez, but he failed to im­press at An­field and was re­leased at the end of the sea­son.

Pellegrino’s play­ing ca­reer fin­ished on a sour note as he was rel­e­gated from La Liga with Alaves.

After re­tir­ing at the end of the 2005/06 sea­son, Pellegrino re­joined Va­len­cia, be­com­ing coach of their youth team.

Fol­low­ing two years in charge of ‘Cadete-B’ he, once again, left Va­len­cia to join Rafa Ben­itez’s Liver­pool, this time as as­sis­tant coach.

After two years on Mersey­side, he fol­lowed Ben­itez to In­ter Mi­lan where he won the Su­per­coppa Ital­iana and the FIFA Club World Cup.

After Ben­itez failed to im­press in Italy, he ul­ti­mately re­signed which saw Pellegrino also de­part.

After the poor spell at In­ter Mi­lan, Pellegrino landed his first job in man­age­ment, suc­ceed­ing Unai Emery at Va­len­cia in 2012.

The for­mer Va­len­cia cen­tre-back was ap­pointed on June 4 but his ten­ure as man­ager was short-lived as he was dis­missed 20 games into the sea­son.

After the short stay at the Mestalla Sta­dium, Pellegrino re­turned to Ar­gentina to be­come the man­ager of Es­tu­di­antes in 2013.

Es­tu­di­antes failed to win the Primera Di­vi­sion or Su­per Cup un­der Pellegrino and, as a re­sult, he was dis­missed, by club pres­i­dent, Juan Se­bas­tian Veron.

After his dis­missal in April 2015, he wasn’t out of a job for long as he was ap­pointed man­ager of In­de­pen­di­ente two months later.

After a suc­cess­ful sea­son in charge, leav­ing Pellegrino with a 51.22% win ra­tio, he re­turned to newly pro­moted Alaves, re­plac­ing Pepe Bordalas.

Alaves en­joyed an im­pres­sive start to last sea­son as they re­mained un­beaten dur­ing the open­ing four fix­tures, in­clud­ing an away draw against Atletico Madrid and an away win against Barcelona.

Prior to the start of the sea­son, Alaves were tipped for rel­e­ga­tion, but at no point dur­ing the sea­son did they look in dan­ger of fall­ing through the trap door.

Pellegrino en­forced a de­fen­sive-based style where his team would build from the back, with full-backs be­ing in­flu­en­tial. Al­though this way of play­ing sounds sim­i­lar to that of Puel, the main dif­fer­ence be­tween the two man­agers is their abil­ity to change and adapt.

Through­out last sea­son, Saints rarely changed their on-field tac­tics, which re­sulted in the pre­vi­ously men­tioned pre­dictabil­ity.

How­ever, Pellegrino has the abil­ity to change his tac­tics and style to be com­pet­i­tive against dif­fer­ent teams and to suit chang­ing sit­u­a­tions.

For ex­am­ple, after three de­feats on the bounce in April Pellegrino changed for­ma­tion from a 5-4-1 to a 4-2-3-1. Helped by this change in for­ma­tion, Alaves fin­ished the sea­son un­beaten.

After be­ing in touch­ing dis­tance of their first ma­jor hon­our since 1976 last term, Saints fans will hope that the un­her­alded Pellegrino can help them take the next

step. After the re­ports of player un­rest, Pellegrino has al­ready showed unity and squad har­mony is im­por­tant as he has al­ready got the play­ers on his side. As Southamp­ton aim to com­pete for Euro­pean places once again, they will hope that Claude Puel was the anom­aly on their near-per­fect scout­ing record as they em­bark on a new era un­der Mauri­cio Pellegrino.

Top Saint: Mauri­cio Pellegrino

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