November 8, 2018 / 4:38 PM / 10 months ago

Soccer-Saints manager Hughes denies his job is in danger

Nov 8 (Reuters) - Southampton manager Mark Hughes expressed surprise at the Premier League club’s decision to sack vice-chairman Les Reed on Thursday but denied that the departure had undermined his own future.

Reed, who was one of the driving forces behind Southampton’s re-emergence as an established Premier League team, was fired earlier in the day.

The club said the decision was made to “get results back on track”.

The Saints are 16th in the table ahead of Saturday’s home game against Watford and Hughes is under pressure after their poor start to the season, with British media reporting that he has one game left to save his job.

Saints’ technical director Martin Hunter was also let go on Thursday as the club’s owner, Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao, looks to avoid a relegation battle.

Hughes, however, said the departures would have no bearing on his own position.

“It was a surprise to everybody,” he told his pre-match news conference. “I had no inclination about it and it’s sad for Les. The club feels that they have to go in a different direction and we have to move on and focus on the job in hand.”

Hughes is confident his success at staving off relegation after joining the Saints midway through last season has earned him a shot at turning their current campaign around.

“The club was in a difficult situation when I came in late last year and we were able turn it around,” he added. “In the summer, as a consequence of seeing the job that I did first hand and how I operate... I was offered a three-year contract.

“Clearly Les would have had an impact on that decision but not totally. Clearly all the board and the ownership itself made the decision to offer me that contract.

“Although Les is no longer around as a sounding board and as a supportive guy in the background there are still a lot of people here that felt I was the right man for the job so I don’t think my position has been diminished too much in that regard.”

Centre back Wesley Hoedt has a foot infection that could rule him out for Saturday, while midfielder Mario Lemina has a thigh strain but is expected to be available. (Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis)

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