Alaves' dramatic decline highlights inspirational impact of Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino

Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique (L) greets Deportivo Alaves' Argentinian coach Mauricio Pellegrino before the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) final football match FC Barcelona vs...

Southampton poached Mauricio Pellegrino this summer after he worked wonders with newly promoted La Liga club Alaves.

Mauricio Pellegrino, Manager of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton and Watford at St Mary's Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Southampton, England.

Mauricio Pellegrino has a long way to go before he can match the exploits of predecessors Ronald Koeman, Mauricio Pochettino and even the largely unpopular Claude Puel at St Marys.

A 1-0 win at crisis-ridden Crystal Palace was much needed after a home defeat to Watford that saw The Saints draw a blank for the third time in just four Premier League fixtures.

As it stands, Southampton are a respectable ninth but the dour performances that characterised the end of Puel’s reign have not yet been replaced with the kind of high-octane attacking football that made the South Coast club a real neutral's favourite during the eras of Koeman or Pochettino.

Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique (L) greets Deportivo Alaves' Argentinian coach Mauricio Pellegrino before the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) final football match FC Barcelona vs...

Yet, while the jury remains out on Pellegrino so far, his replacement at La Liga club Alaves could only dream of being mired in mid-table mediocrity.

Alaves have taken a leaf out of Palace’s book by losing each of their four league games in 2017/18 – without scoring a single goal. And a 3-0 home thumping by Villarreal was the final straw for manager Luis Zubeldia, just three months after he replaced Pellegrino at the helm.

Head coach Luis Zubeldia of Deportivo Alaves reacts during the La Liga match between Deportivo Alaves and Barcelona at Estadio de Mendizorroza on August 26, 2017 in Vitoria-Gasteiz,Spain.

Now, it is easy to draw brutal conclusions about the 36-year-old’s managerial ability as he becomes the first manager to be sacked in La Liga this season. However, Alaves’ dreadful start should only reinforce just what a superb job Pellegrino did at the Mendizorrotza.

In their first ever season in Spain’s top flight, the Basque minnows exceeded even the most optimistic expectations to finish in ninth place, securing a famous win at the Camp Nou to boot.

Pellegrino also guided Alaves to the Copa Del Rey final where only an irresistible blitz from Barcelona on the stroke of half-time separated the two evenly-matched sides. The former Liverpool coach got the best out of a squad of limited journeyman to guide Alaves to the best season in their history.

Southampton fans, therefore, should keep the faith. As Alaves will tell you, it could be worse.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch