Having sacked Claude Puel after an eighth place finish in the Premier League and a League Cup final appearance, it is undeniable that those in and around Southampton would have been demanding something better than want new man Mauricio Pellegrino has mustered this season.

The Argentine was brought in to improve the entertainment at St Mary's but under his stewardship Saints have averaged fewer goals and shots than last season under Puel, while they are seven points worse off at the same stage of the campaign.

Only goal difference separates them from the bottom three following a run which has seen them win only once since the clocks went back. A potentially pivotal transfer window has started in the worst possible fashion too with the sale of Virgil van Dijk for £75m to Liverpool.

Some would question whether Pellegrino deserves the opportunity to spend that money given the inauspicious start many of his new recruits have made this season. But chairman Ralph Krueger has offered his backing and is ready to support the coach this month. For Saints' sake he needs to be right.

What they need

With Van Dijk unfit and disengaged for much of the season, a defence of Maya Yoshida, summer signing Wesley Hosdt Jack Stephens is not one which will keep out the most potent attacks the Premier League has to offer.

The fee recouped for the Dutch simply he to be reinvested in a replacement and in attack where Charlie Austin, Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long has mustered just 10 goals between them in all competitions.

Who could join

Theo Walcott's desperate attempt to force his way into England's World Cup squad could see him seek refuge back at Southampton, who he left in 2006. West Ham and Everton are also said to be interested, according to The Mirror.

If not, then another top four outcast Daniel Sturridge could be looked at to fill the void having fallen behind Dominic Solanke in the pecking order at Liverpool. Again, the Hammers and Newcastle United have been linked with a move.

Who could leave

If one positive has emerged from Van Dijk's departure if Southampton are in a financial position which ensures they do not have to part ways with any of their other star players. But their plight near the foot of the table means those same individuals may have other ideas.

Top of the possible exit list is England full-back Ryan Bertrand, who has been linked with Manchester City as recently as December.

The Daily Mail understand Bertrand is among a five-man defensive shortlist compiled by Pep Guardiola, and with Benjamin Mendy not expected to return until next season a berth at left-back remains.

What the manager has said

Speaking after the 2-1 defeat to fellow-relegation rivals Crystal Palace, Pellegrino told Sky Sports: "We've got a couple of targets, and it will be important to try to bring them as quick as possible to improve not just inside but outside the pitch. To lift the confidence of everyone. Especially in our offensive."

Mauricio Pellegrino
Pellegrino is under pressure to spent the Van Dijk money wisely. Getty Images