Joey Barton has criticised Southampton’s appointment of Mark Hughes as their new manager, telling talkSPORT it highlights a worrying trend with Premier League clubs.
Hughes’ return to St Mary’s – where he was a player from 1998 to 2000 – was confirmed on Wednesday evening, succeeding Mauricio Pellegrino who was sacked by the club on Monday after a run of one win in 17 league games.
The Welshman has eight games to save the Saints from relegation, with the club currently sitting one point above the bottom-three.
He has only signed a deal until the end of the season but Barton - who played under the manager at Queens Park Rangers - has questioned the appointment after Hughes left Stoke City in the mire when he was sacked by the Potters in January.
Asked about his relationship with his former boss, Barton said: “I don’t think it’s fit for air on radio, but I’m very surprised.
“I was very, very surprised to see he was the favourite.
“I can understand why Southampton would go for him, he’s got Premier League experience, but I just don’t get it.
“Maybe that’s just my experience of him. This is somebody I’ve worked with and we didn’t have a great relationship, so obviously I’m going to biased in the negative towards him.
“It sets a worrying trend when you look at the last few managerial replacements in the Premier League. We’re no longer attracting the crème de la crème.
“Stoke City fans are probably better judges of Mark Hughes’ ability than me, but Stoke are comfortably in the bottom three and I think a lot of that is to do with Mark Hughes .”