Defiant Mark Hughes insists he will continue to fight for his job, describing speculation over his future as like “water off a duck’s back.”

Hughes is under considerable pressure going into tomorrow’s game against Manchester United at St Mary’s with just one league win all season leaving Saints in the bottom three.

Though performances have been encouraging they haven’t been followed by results and there are growing rumours that things need to change very quickly for him to keep his job.

National newspaper stories linked Saints with an approach for Paulo Sousa as a replacement, but the Daily Echo understands they are incorrect, with the Portuguese having been in the boardroom for the game at Fulham but not as guest of the club.

However, with Hughes under pressure he does accept it is inevitable that agents will start working to see if they can get their client a Premier League job.

He said: “I think that’s where experience comes in because it’s water off a duck’s back. I know how this game works.

“The reality is if people surmise a manager is under pressure almost every sports agent in the country will put forward clients and debate and try and get in contact with the powers that be and say ‘this is the right guy if you are thinking of making a change.’ “That’s what happens. I understand that. It’s not a problem. It’s people doing their business.

“It’s when that is a little bit too obvious and people try and set the agenda for themselves and the benefit of themselves that I rail against it to be honest.”

Hughes accepts that pressure is building but remains adamant that things will turn around. “It’s what results or lack of positive results brings,” he said.

“In this day and age sometimes there’s media outlets that find it’s in their interest to set the agenda when it isn’t backed up by facts or the reality of the situation within the club so you have to deal with that as well.

“Truth of the matter is if you get good results then the pressure goes somewhere else.

“I am not the only manager in charge of a football club that is down at the bottom and underachieving at the moment but I am getting the brunt of the speculation, rightly or wrongly.

“That’s what happens and I have been in the game a long time and it doesn’t faze me. “Actually, it makes me want to excel even more and that’s the message I give to the players and in these moments not allowing people the opportunity to question you as a player and an individual. If anything we have been guilty of allowing people that opportunity.

“We have just got to be positive in what we do. We have had a number of games of late where we still feel hard done by.

“Watford is well documented we should have won that and would have done with the introduction of VAR and the same at Leicester because of the introduction of VAR we didn’t win that one!

“Same at Fulham we score two goals as an away side, dominated the game, and didn’t get a win and got criticism for that.

“Performances have been fine and midweek we changed things and had a good reaction and we are very close and we still believe that.

“If you look at the effort and motivation of the group you can see that in their play.

“The pressure will build until we get positive results in Premier League games but we are not very far away in my view.”

Hughes also insisted he hasn’t sought assurances from the Saints board over his future.

“I don’t need assurances, they understand what I’m doing here, what we did last year, how I work and how my staff work.

“We are doing the best we can, we are preparing the team exceptionally well and every game we have been competitive in.

“There are very few games where we have not been able to affect the opposition. They see that and see how we work on a daily basis.

“We are not naive. At some point we need to get maximum points on the board but we are not very far away. We all feel that, the ownership, the football management, here myself and the players.”