SAINTS boss Mauricio Pochettino remains very much in the bookies’ minds to make a switch to North London.
This week’s decision by Manchester United to sack David Moyes will ensure the rumour mill goes into overdrive in the next few weeks.
Dutchman Louis Van Gaal is the early favourite with the bookmakers to take over from Moyes at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal had previously been favourite to replace Tim Sherwood at White Hart Lane.
He remains 4/1 with SkyBet, but is now second favourite behind Massimiliano Allegri at 7/2.
Allegri left his previous job in Serie A, with Milan, in January of this year. Pochettino, who has repeatedly said he will talk to Saints about his future after the current season has ended, is 5/1 third favourite to replace Sherwood.
The Saints manager is actually second favourite with SkyBet to become Arsene Wenger’s successor at Arsenal.
Pochettino is 16/1, the same odds as Steve Bould, with Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp the favourite at 10/1.
The fact Pochettino has not yet signed a contract extension to his current deal, which expires in the summer of 2015, is concerning sections of the St Mary’s faithful.
A recent Daily Echo online poll showed over 80 per cent wanted the club to sort out the Argentinian’s future quickly.
But that is unlikely to happen, with only three games of Pochettino’s first full season as Saints boss remaining.
Not all Saints fans, though, are highly worried that their manager could leave this summer.
“I am not worried about Pochettino leaving. I would be more worried about who we would get in to replace him,” suggested Nick Illingsworth, editor of webzine The Ugly Inside “The average shelf life of a Premier League manager is about two years, so the reality is that he will leave one day.
“I am not sure he would get a better job than the one he has got at the moment.
“I do not believe he is as widely thought of elsewhere as we might think of him.
“He has been linked with several jobs, but his track record is not good enough for those jobs.
“If Sherwood leaves Tottenham, would they try to placate their fans by going for Pochettino? “In Spurs’ fans eyes, he has taken Southampton from a low mid table place to a high mid table place.
“Pochettino’s track record is taking clubs from a lowly league position up to mid table. He did that as Espanyol and he’s done that at Southampton.
“If you are looking to move on from finishing sixth to finishing second or third, would you look at Pochettino?”
The stats back that up.
Sherwood has banked 36 points from 19 games in charge since taking over last December.
In the same period, Pochettino has taken 11 points fewer.
Saints have also lost twice to Sherwood’s Tottenham, both by 3-2 margins.
And when the sides met at White Hart Lane last month, Saints let slip a 2-0 half-time lead to crash 3-2 to a last-minute goal.
In addition, this could be the first season of Pochettino’s managerial career – at Espanyol or Saints – where he has ended with more victories than defeats.
Illingsworth does not believe Saints’ potential top-eight finish this season is worthy of comparison with their previous one 11 years ago.
“Look at the side that Gordon Strachan had in 2003 when we finished eighth and also got to the cup final,” he recalled.
“With the players he had at his disposal, you could say we over-achieved that year.
“With the talent and players Pochettino has got at his disposal, you could say we’re under achieving at the moment to finish eighth.
“I saw something on social media the other day where somebody had listed their top five choices for manager of the year – Brendan Rodgers, Tony Pulis, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes and Roberto Martinez.
“Pochettino was not mentioned anywhere at all.
“With the exception of Hughes, I had no complaints at the list.
“But even with Hughes, you could say he’s taken a squad which has had little investment and was widely tipped to struggle to within five points of Saints.”
Pochettino, meanwhile, is rated as high as 20/1 to replace Moyes at Manchester United by SportingBet.
Moyes is 22/1 to become the next Saints boss if Pochettino is enticed away, but the favourite at 5/2 to be named the next Newcastle manager.
Ex-Saint Alan Pardew, left, is coming under increasing pressure in the north east after losing his last five Premier League games, scoring just one goal and conceding 14. One of those losses was a 4-0 thrashing at St Mary’s.