Mauricio Pellegrino has signed a three-year deal as the new manager of Southampton, replacing Claude Puel who was dismissed earlier this month.
Despite a relatively respectable eighth place finish in the Premier League and reaching the League Cup final last season, it came as no real surprise when Puel was given his P45 just 12 months into a three-year contract. As amiable as the Frenchman is, it was felt that the Saints had made little progress under his leadership, and the style of football had also become stale.
The St Mary’s club were in competition with top-flight rivals Crystal Palace for a new manager this summer, after Sam Allardyce quit the capital club in May. Frank de Boer and Pellegrino were widely reported to be in the frame for both, but whilst the Dutchman has been installed at Selhurst Park, Southampton have turned to the 45-year-old Argentine.
“The club has a great reputation for having a strong and stable structure, competing in the Premier League and playing attractive football,” he said. “I think my philosophy and the culture of the club will work well together. I am excited and passionate about what the future holds for us and look forward to meeting the players and beginning our preparation for the new season.”
So who is Pellegrino?
He has experience of the Premier League in the past, having made a dozen Premier League appearances under Rafael Benitez at Liverpool in 2005. He then returned to Anfield to work alongside the Spaniard as his assistant manager between 2008 and 2010, and also followed him to Internazionale. His first job as manager was at Valencia, but he was sacked after just seven months.
Pellegrino then returned to his homeland to manage Estudiantes de la Plata and then Independiente. But he was back in Spain when Alaves, his last club as a player, came calling in June last year. He led the club to their first ever Copa del Rey final, which they lost to Barcelona, before leaving in May. He is now back in England, and Southampton are sure they’ve landed the right man.
“Mauricio impressed us with his depth of knowledge, motivation and ability, communicating this in a professional and passionate way,” said vice-chairman Les Reed. “He has an excellent understanding of the Southampton way, and his style of play and aspiration matches the philosophy, culture and ambition of the club. We firmly believe Mauricio is the right person to help us take the next steps.”