Friend was right to keep the game flowing before consulting VAR
players as those they have now.
Puel’s obsession with possession undermined that approach and Pellegrino’s reluctance to attack teams as Saints did in their most successful seasons is part of the reason why he leaves with more draws than any other Premier League club.
Marco Silva was the only viable alternative to Hughes but the club never pursued it seriously once they had considered his references. Silva’s failure to put Everton off earlier in the season when they courted him has damaged his standing beyond just the sacking at Watford. With a couple of notable exceptions, Hughes outscored Silva heavily when it came to his former employers and that he comes with such experienced staff, in Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki, was also an attraction.
If anything the hope is that Southampton under Hughes will be braver than at any point in the last two seasons, and not succumb to the more conservative instincts that often grip a club threatened by relegation. The investment in Argentine striker Guido Carrillo for a club record £19million was intended to give Pellegrino that option. Until now the club say that the money always goes back into the playing squad. The wage bill has risen by £48million in the four seasons up to 2016-2017 with another uplift likely in the next results. Southampton have always been reluctant to revel in a reputation as the great playing trading club of the Premier League because they always felt that there would be seasons like this one when the system did not work as it has in the past. They have invested in the academy and in their training ground sports science facilities in recent years, and there are still young players coming through, like Josh Sims, albeit fewer than before.
The Southampton way – academy graduates, shrewd signings, attacking football, big sales – has never been under pressure like it is now. They trust in their system, and in the choices that have led them to appoint Hughes until the end of the season. There are no regrets about all those players sold over the last four years either, a reality that Southampton will always have to live with as long as they are successful.
It was the correct video assistant referee decision to disallow Son Heung-min’s goal against Swansea City. His knee was offside even if his feet were level and it is those kinds of calls that, as pundit Glenn Hoddle said at half-time, VAR was designed to get correct.
Unfortunately, the television pictures did not keep pace this time and there were many who felt that VAR had got it wrong.
The referee Kevin Friend was right to let the game run on and for Son’s shot to cross the line so that if his assistant’s decision had been overruled by VAR the goal could have been given.
In that respect, goalkeepers and defenders have to remember that a flag raised in their peripheral vision is not an insurance policy against any subsequent goal being given and they have to try to make the tackle or save. All in all, it is not that hard.
They trust in their system and that led them to appoint Hughes