SAINTS need a firefighter manager and Mark Hughes is the nearest the club can get to appointing one at such short notice.

The 54-year-old might not command the same reputation as Sam Allardyce or Tony Pulis for helping clubs avoid the drop, but Hughes has never been relegated as a Premier League manager.

Survival is all that truly matters to Saints right now and Hughes is one of a few bosses equipped to deliver this.

The remaining eight league games are everything. Everything else, including the FA Cup, can be discounted.

Now is not the time to employ a sexy foreign name with the hope he’s the next Mauricio Pochettino.

Experience is key now and Hughes has 14 years under his belt as a Premier League manager.

None of Saints’ managers since their return to the top-flight in 2012/13 have had that much Premier League experience.

Saints must now set aside their recent traditions of avoiding those riding the ‘managerial merry-go-round’ and going for a more exciting but risky appointment if they are to survive.

Mauricio Pellegrino was a risk that didn’t come off and Saints just cannot afford to go for another left field boss at this stage.

They do not have the luxury of time nor a lot of options, the list of available managers is not extensive and those who have the necessary skills are few and far between.

Right now, with action needed immediately, negotiations with another club for an employed manager would be drawn out and could be costly, both in time and money.

Staying up in the Premier League is the be all and end all and perhaps, if Hughes achieves this, then there might be an appropriate time to look back into unearthing the next Poch.

Hughes might be underwhelming from a fan perspective but this would be an appointment borne out of logic, out of the aim to survive.

Saints must be more concerned about their status as a top-flight club right now than anything else. They should not be looking beyond the middle of May and the end of the top-flight campaign.

Pellegrino’s replacement must be a manager who has experience of the specific position Saints find themselves in and Hughes has overseen nearly 450 games as a Premier League boss.

He was hired by Queens Park Rangers in January 2012, replacing Neil Warnock and narrowly helped the club avoid the drop to Championship.

Mostly, he's led his clubs to solid mid-table finishes, although was sacked by QPR in 2012/13 before they were eventually relegated under Harry Redknapp.

While Pellegrino was about as unexperienced as it got for a top-flight boss, Hughes has just about seen it all and is well equipped to deal with a relegation scrap.

On top of that, though, he’s available.

It should not be underestimated how difficult a situation Saints are in and they need a manager who understands how to deal with it and fast.

It’s big pressure to be thrown in the deep end of a scrap for survival and you need a manager well-versed in these scenarios and who has a good understanding of English football.

Promises were made at the start of the campaign to deliver ‘attacking football’ to St Mary’s under Pellegrino’s stewardship.

But none of that came to fruition, leading Saints to axe their second manager in just under nine months after Claude Puel last June.

Now the club’s board must accept that they need to stop appointing experimental managers, who may have potential but come with a risk-factor.

They’ve got the last two appointments wrong and by going for Hughes are going for the most logical option.

The football doesn’t have to be pretty, just enough to keep the club up.

Players need galvanising. Fans need reassurance. Saints need saving and fast. The Newcastle performance was gutless and unacceptable.

Beyond this eight-game spell, Hughes might not be the right fit.

But his skills set are suited to the predicament Saints find themselves in now and he's ready to go now.

That's all that matters.