(Reuters) – Southampton boss Mark Hughes is unconcerned by the speculation surrounding his future at the Premier League club and believes his team are on the verge of turning a corner in terms of results, he said on Thursday.
Southampton head into Saturday’s home game against Manchester United third-bottom in the table, having won only one league match all season and none at their St Mary’s Stadium.
The victory came against Crystal Palace on Sept. 1 and they have had four draws and five defeats since, including a 3-2 loss to basement side Fulham last time out that ratcheted up the pressure on their Welsh manager.
The Times reported on Wednesday that the club’s hierarchy have spoken to former Fiorentina boss Paulo Sousa about replacing Hughes, whose side face four of the current top five in the coming weeks.
“I’m not the only manager in charge of a football club which is down at the bottom and maybe is underachieving at the moment,” Hughes told a news conference.
“I seem to be getting the brunt of the speculation, rightly or wrongly but I’ve been in the game a long time. It doesn’t faze me… I think that’s where experience comes in because it’s water off a duck’s back. I know how this game works.
“The reality is if people surmise a manager is under pressure almost every sports agent… will put forward clients and try and get in contact with the powers that be and say ‘this is the right guy if you’re thinking of making a change’.”
Southampton are struggling for goals, with 10 in 13 league games, and Hughes’s misery has been compounded by a hamstring injury to on-loan striker Danny Ings, who missed their last two games and will miss the United game.
With left back Ryan Bertrand out with a back problem, the manager will also have to rejig his back line against his former club.
“We’re very, very close. We’ve said that now for a number of weeks and we still believe that,” Hughes said. “The pressure will build until we get maximum points from Premier League games, but we’re not very far away.”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)