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Southampton: Mauricio Pellegrino sparks interest after Claude Puel’s boredom

Ryan Bertrand of Southampton tackles Joe Allen of Stoke City during the Premier League match between Southampton and Stoke City at St Mary's Stadium on May 21, 2017 in Southampton, England.

Star man: Manolo Gabbiadini started his Southampton career with six goals in four matches after his arrival in January, raising hopes that he could be the new Rickie Lambert.

On the pitch

Then he got injured and went on an eight-game barren run, which was a bit Brett Ormerod. In the Italian’s defence, though, the football under Claude Puel was really boring and the £14.6m buy from Napoli showed enough instinctive awareness in the penalty area before injury stalled his momentum to suggest the 25-year-old won’t go down as a flash in the pan.

Biggest summer buy: The £5m Polish centre-back Jan Bednarek began his career at Lech Poznan, although hopefully that won’t mean he spends the entire time with his back to play. The 21-year‑old represented his country at the European Under-21 Championship this summer and his arrival could pave the way for Virgil van Dijk to leave.

Breakthrough season: The academy that produced Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and James Ward-Prowse has experienced a minor lull of late, with the next great bunch of kids yet to force their way into the first team. But after helping England win the Under-20 World Cup, there could be opportunities for the 18-year-old midfielder Callum Slattery.

Bad boy: Oriol Romeu is a product of La Masia but the former Barcelona enforcer exudes more of a bite-yer-ankles vibe than a relish for tiki-taka and picked up 13 bookings last season.

Boo boy: Southampton fans might be leaving out the second syllable in Sofiane Boufal’s surname if the Moroccan creator continues to underwhelm.

Destination Russia: With Denmark battling with Montenegro for second place in their qualification group, the 21-year-old midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg could do with asserting himself at St Mary’s this term.

Glass half-full:A new manager brings with him fresh optimism. They’re too good to go down. They were in League One five minutes ago!

Glass half-empty: It’s like watching a balance sheet play football and their fans would even take a relegation battle if it meant feeling alive again.

Off the pitch

The manager: Mauricio Pellegrino took Alavés to the Copa del Rey final, hates losing, frets when he wins and says he only wants players who are 1000% committed to Southampton, so the Argentinian is likely to be more exciting than Puel, not least because it’s going to be hilarious when people confuse him with the former Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino.

The owners: In a recent reshuffle Katharina Liebherr, the owner, resigned as a director, leaving the day-to-day running to Ralph Krueger, Les Reed and Martin Semmens. Southampton have come far since the dark days of administration, but fans would like to see more ambition.

Steve Grant’s fan’s view:Will probably be similar to last season, in truth. There might be a slight increase in energy under the new manager but the squad has barely changed, so more of the same is expected. Prediction: 8th.Follow Steve @SteveGrant1983

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jacob Steinberg, for The Guardian on Friday 11th August 2017 12.00 Europe/London

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