Marco Silva is poised for a swift return to Premier League management with Southampton.
Silva, 40, was sacked by Watford on Sunday after a run of just one win in 11 league games.
The Hertfordshire club blamed an approach from Everton earlier this season for turning Silva’s head.
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A Vicarage Road insider said: “He took his eye off the ball after that.”
But that would not put off Southampton, who vied with Crystal Palace and Watford to sign up the highly-rated Portuguese boss after he left relegated Hull last summer.
Leading figures in the St Mary’s hierarchy are still hankering after Silva, especially with their team in the bottom three after Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Tottenham.
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Current Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino, 46, is in the midst of an even worse run than Silva — one win in 15 league games.
Pellegrino likens his job to the electric chair but is not expecting the sack.
He said: “I fear for the health of my family, not my job. I enjoy my job, even in difficult moments.”
But Pellegrino is clearly in danger as chiefs eye Silva as their saviour — and the appointment will be popular, with fans calling for him to go on social media yesterday.
Despite the team’s position, it did not stop Pellegrino blooding a young gun — after giving Michael Obafemi his Premier League debut at 17 years and 199 days.
That made the Irish striker the club’s second youngest top-flight debutant behind Luke Shaw.
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And Obafemi, who almost hit a late winner against Spurs, was shocked by his promotion.
He said: “I came in on Saturday thinking I was playing the Under-18s match against Fulham.
“But then I got told I’d be training with the first team, with the potential to be in the squad.
“I was overwhelmed, I was nervous but the welcome from the supporters was brilliant.”
Saints left-back Matt Targett, 22, has joined Fulham on loan for the rest of the season.