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Sad scoreless derby draw is Allardyce’s Everton death knell

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Everton’s failure to find any semblance of offense against the largely second team version of their Merseyside Derby rivals should serve as the death knell for Sam Allardyce at Goodison Park.

The Toffees accomplished nothing Saturday despite their point gained against Liverpool, who were away from home and coasting toward Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League second leg at Manchester City.

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We mean, Ragnar Klavan started at left back!!

No, the Toffees did not have prime playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, but that shouldn’t have mattered given the Reds plans for the Merseyside Derby.

Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings started with Sadio Mane. Klavan was at left back. The bench had a majority of kids.

Allardyce opened the match with a cautious approach. Why did urgency only arrive in the final 15 minutes? Was Allardyce’s Everton afraid to lose to second-choice rivals? Or was he playing for a point in a match which only carried merit in terms of bragging rights?

Yes, Everton was still in a race for the 7th place spot which seems destined to reward with Europa League play. But they aren’t any more, five points and behind Burnley having played two more matches.

But they’ve spent big to firm up their status as a should-be Top Six contender. Arsenal’s poor season opened that door; Ronald Koeman put the club in a hole in terms of reaching that status, but no club — not Burnley, not Leicester City, not Arsenal — has done enough to make coming back an impossibility.

Everton is now under .500 during Allardyce’s reign, falling to 7W-4D-8L. That’s 1.3 points per game, and would have them with two more projected points than they stand with Koeman’s total included.

The fact that Cenk Tosun, a player who Allardyce reportedly didn’t want, was Everton’s best threat on the day also says something (Theo Walcott was also lively, as the manager continued to “save teams” via the transfer market). Everton was always going to rise above the drop zone, and those who bought into the fear of its legitimacy can be forgiven but not held up as bastions of perspective.

West Ham United has seen this before, and it should come as some comfort to Everton’s hierarchy that they were bamboozled by a man who has bamboozled so many others. Even the English national team fell for his act.

It’s not that he’s useless, rather it’s the reputation he’s cultivated as a man who’s going to do anything for your club more than Tony Pulis or Mark Hughes or any of the other brigade of “next tier” managers underneath the top bosses in world football. Yes, he led Bolton to Europe. So did Alan Pardew at Newcastle, and Slaven Bilic as Allardyce’s replacement at West Ham.

This cannot be your man, Everton, not if you want to be anywhere near your Merseyside rivals at any time soon.

Southampton close in on Mark Hughes

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Southampton is set to turn to an experienced Premier League manager to save them from sleepwalking into relegation.

Pro Soccer Talk understand that Mark Hughes is the overwhelming favorite to take charge of Saints after they fired Argentine coach Mauricio Pellegrino on Monday following a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle where he accused his players of “giving up” during a dreadful display.

It is believed Southampton aren’t set to appoint Hughes imminently, while other candidates such as former Hull City and Watford manager Marco Silva, plus ex-West Ham boss Slaven Bilic, aren’t currently in the running.

Current Southampton assistant coach and former goalkeeper Kelvin Davis took training on Tuesday after Pellegrino’s departure following just one win in their last 17 Premier League games.

Information obtained by Pro Soccer Talk from a source close to the situation revealed that Southampton aim to have their new manager in charge before this weekend. They play at third-tier Wigan Athletic on Sunday in the FA Cup quarterfinal for a place at Wembley in the last four of the competition.

Premier League survival is the main aim but whoever takes over could well be just 180 minutes from leading Saints to a major cup final. The main aim will be turning around the displays of a group of players who many feel have had too much of a say in how the club is run during the short reigns of Claude Puel and Pellegrino over the past 18 months.

Hughes, 54, has been out of work since being fired by Stoke City in January but it is hoped the former Southampton striker (Hughes scored twice in 52 Premier League appearances in a deeper midfield role for Saints from 1998-00) can galvanize a talented squad and pull them through in the final eight games of the season. Hughes has never been relegated as a Premier League manager and with his former club Stoke also in the PL relegation battle with Saints, it may be a way to show his former employers what they’re missing.

Saints are currently one place and one point above the relegation zone and realistically need three more wins (they only managed five in 30 games this season under Pellegrino) to stay out of the bottom three.

After spending the past five seasons at Stoke, Hughes led the Potters to three-straight ninth place finishes before a 13th place finish last season and then a poor start to the current campaign which cost him his job.

While some may question Saints hiring a manager from the merry-go-round with Hughes having a mixed bag of results managing Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR and Stoke over the years, it may well spark their under-performing squad into life. Hughes is well known to be a “players’ coach” and could inspire a complete shakeup at St Mary’s in the final months of the season.

With Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman, Claude Puel and Pellegrino the last four managers at Southampton, hiring an experienced, British PL boss will be a big shift in direction from Saints. At this point they will do whatever they can to secure their Premier League status.

Hughes will have his work cut out to do that with Saints still to play Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Man City in their final eight games of the season, while five of the eight games are away from home.

Southampton fire manager Mauricio Pellegrino

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Changes are coming at Southampton, as the Premier League side attempts to fend off relegation this season.

The Saints announced on Monday that the team has parted ways with manager Mauricio Pellegrino, after his side fell just above the relegation zone.

Since taking over at St. Mary’s Stadium in June 2017, Pellegrino has won just eight matches with Southampton, slightly above 23 percent of the games he has coached.

Additionally, the club revealed that assistants Carlos Compagnucci and Xavier Tamarit have also left the PL side.

The Saints currently sit one point above the bottom three with eight matches remaining in the 2017/18 PL season.

It’s unclear what direction Southampton will take moving forward for the rest of the season, but a number of veteran PL manager remain available.

Mark Hughes, Slaven Bilic, Frank De Boer, Marco Silva and Paul Clement have all coached in England within the last year, and do not currently hold jobs at other clubs.

Hughes — in particular — could be an enticing hire for the Saints considering the veteran coach was a player at St. Mary’s back in the late-1990s for several seasons.

Chicharito praised as West Ham striker hits form

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is becoming quite the cult hero at West Ham United, just a few weeks after admitting he wanted to leave the east London club in January.

Hernandez, 29, scored West Ham’s opening goal in their 2-0 win against Watford last weekend, had another disallowed and was a constant pest as the Hammers continued to ease their relegation fears considerably since David Moyes arrived to take charge in November.

The all-time leading goalscorer for Mexico’s national team has now scored three goals in his last four games in the Premier League, which is his best run of form since returning to England last summer following two years in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen.

Many fans of El Tri feared that Moyes’ arrival at West Ham (he benched Hernandez often during his time in charge of Manchester United) would spark a sharp downturn in playing time for Hernandez and although initially that seemed to be the case due to an injury of his own, injuries and outgoings involving other strikers in January suddenly handed him the chance to stake his claim as their first-choice striker.

He’s taken it with both hands and is a real handful up top with Michail Antonio, Joao Mario and Marko Arnautovic supporting him in attack.

“Chicharito is a top striker. I’ve got a great relationship with him and he deserves his goals because he is a hard worker. I’m really happy for him and for the team,” West Ham’s goalkeeper Adrian said after the game.

Hernandez has turned things around very quickly with the Hammers and although the fans have always appreciated his predatory instincts, it appeared he may not fit into their system under Slaven Bilic and then his successor Moyes.

With seven goals in 15 PL starts (plus six appearances off the bench) in his debut season at the London Stadium, Hernandez is West Ham’s second top goalscorer and the move has done his reputation as a serial scorer no harm at all.

Whether or not he remains at West Ham beyond this season remains to be seen but he will have plenty of suitors and, more importantly for Mexico, he is in form and scoring goals ahead of the 2018 World Cup this summer.

Transfer rumor roundup: Schurrle to Newcastle, Spurs

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A new name has emerged on the loan market, as Borussia Dortmund forward Andre Schurrle is reportedly being made available for the second half of the Premier League season.

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Newcastle United reportedly leads the pack for the former Chelsea scorer, who is struggling to get time at BVB thanks to a glut of fantastic wingers including Christian Pulisic.

Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has a good relationship with the Westfalenstadion set, having taken Mikel Merino off their hands in August. Newcastle currently uses Christian Atsu on the left wing and Matt Ritchie on the right, but Schurrle can play center forward and Benitez may prefer to use the 27-year-old in the middle of his trident.

But they’ll face competition, and HITC says BVB is willing to pay half of his wages on an 18-month deal to keep him reasonable for some clubs. This could be a boon for Spurs.

Newcastle and Stoke City have also been linked with Galatasaray midfielder Papa “Badou” Ndiaye, with the Magpies said to have bid just a bit higher than the Potters but still under Gala’s buyout clause.

And here’s a wild one, according to ESPN: Chelsea’s rumored pursuit of current Premier League scorers now includes Marko Arnautovic. The audacious Austrian attacker cost West Ham around $35 million when his head was turned from Stoke City in the summer.

He didn’t perform well but Slaven Bilic, but David Moyes has been able to get some fine performances from the powerful Arnautovic. Chelsea has previously been linked with West Ham teammate Andy Carroll, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch as it attempts to find a center forward to ease the burden placed on Alvaro Morata in his first Premier League season.