1. ITV Report

Southampton begin search for new manager after sacking Mauricio Pellegrino

Photo: PA

Southampton have begun the search for a manager to save them from relegation after sacking Mauricio Pellegrino on Monday night.

Former Hull and Watford boss Marco Silva, himself axed by the Hornets earlier this season, is the early favourite for the role.

Pellegrino, only appointed in the summer, paid the price for Southampton's alarming recent form.

The Saints hierarchy pulled the trigger with eight games remaining as they attempt to cling on to their Premier League status.

The Saints lost a crucial relegation battle against Newcastle last weekend. Credit: PA

Southampton have won just one of their last 17 league matches - against bottom club West Brom - with Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Newcastle proving to be the final straw.

That latest setback left Saints languishing just one place and one point above the relegation zone.

Former Liverpool defender Pellegrino had been under increasing pressure as the season progressed, with fans frustrated by his perceived defensive tactics and pundits accusing the players of not playing for him.

The 46-year-old arrived at St Mary's as the replacement for Claude Puel, who was sacked despite guiding Southampton to an eighth-placed finish and the League Cup final.

Southampton sacked Puel last summer however he now has his Leicester side sitting 8th in the league. Credit: PA

To rub salt in the wounds Puel is now flourishing at Leicester, who currently lie eighth.

Saints will be hoping to appoint Pellegrino's successor quickly, with an FA Cup quarter-final at Wigan looming on Sunday.

They then face a crunch clash with relegation rivals West Ham at the London Stadium on March 31.

Assistant manager Carlos Compagnucci and assistant first-team coach Xavier Tamarit have also parted company with the club.

A Southampton statement read: "We would like to place on record our thanks to Mauricio, Carlos and Xavier for their efforts during their time with Southampton, and wish them well for the future.

"The club will look to appoint a new management team as soon as possible, with the search for a replacement already under way."

Who next for the Saints?

Silva was sacked by Watford in January. Credit: PA

Marco Silva

An early favourite for the job, Silva made his mark in the Premier League when he arrived in January 2017 and earned plenty of plaudits for his ultimately fruitless attempts to keep Hull in the top flight.

The Portuguese was snapped up by Watford last summer and he continued to enhance his reputation at Vicarage Road before having his head turned by Everton, who were looking for a replacement for Ronald Koeman.

A poor run of results followed and Watford sacked Silva in January, blaming Everton's approach as the "catalyst for the decision." Could Silva be tempted by another rescue mission at St Mary's?

Hughes was sacked by Stoke also in January. Credit: PA

Mark Hughes

Among the bookmakers' favourites, Hughes has been out of work since his sacking at Stoke in January.

He is a former Saints player, making 52 appearances and scoring two goals for the club between 1998 and 2000.

The Welshman helped Stoke to three consecutive ninth-place Premier League finishes in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 before progress stalled.

His time with the Potters ended following an FA Cup defeat to Sky Bet League Two Coventry and on the back of five defeats in seven Premier League matches - a record which could count against him given Southampton's current predicament.

Fonseca's Shakhtar side beat Man City earlier this season. Credit: PA

Paulo Fonseca

Southampton are not scared of making a left-field appointment, so Shakhtar Donetsk coach Fonseca cannot be ruled out.

The 45-year-old has spoken of his admiration for the Premier League and is believed to have been interviewed by Everton before Sam Allardyce was appointed.

Fonseca, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has a win percentage of just over 78% since taking charge of Shakhtar in 2016, leading the Ukrainian club to Premier League, Ukrainian Cup and Super Cup glory in that time.

He is also a character, making good on a promise to dress as Zorro to a press conference if his side were to qualify from a Champions League group containing Manchester City and Napoli.

Potter is managing Swedish side Ostersund who ran Arsenal close in the Europa League Credit: PA

Graham Potter

Highly-rated Potter was the last English manager standing in European club competition this season, with Swedish minnows Ostersund going out to Arsenal in the Europa League round of 32.

However, a 3-0 home defeat was followed by a stunning 2-1 win at the Emirates, and the former York defender has worked wonders at the club.

Potter would be a brave choice but the 42-year-old's record in Sweden stands up against some of the very best in the business. Since taking charge in 2011, Potter has taken Ostersund from the fourth tier to the Swedish top flight.

Bilic was West Ham boss until November 2017. Credit: PA

Slaven Bilic

The Croatian was sacked by West Ham in November 2017 following a poor run of results which culminated in a 4-1 loss at home to Liverpool.

However, his first season with the Hammers brought a top-seven finish and with it Europa League qualification.

Their European adventure did not last long, however, as they were knocked out by Romanian side FC Astra Giurgiu in the qualifying rounds.

They finished mid-table the following season and were in trouble when he left the club. Is he somebody Southampton could take a gamble on?