Mauricio Pellegrino is facing arguably the highest pressure test of his managerial career as Saints head into a crunch halfway point fixture against Huddersfield.

Tomorrow’s game at St Mary’s will see Saints complete half of their Premier League fixtures for the campaign, with rumblings of uncertainty and discontent still in the air.

Any thoughts that merely replacing Claude Puel would sweep away the problems at the club have proven unfounded with Saints heading into the game six points worse off than they were at the same stage last year, and without a run in the EFL Cup or Europa League football also on the agenda.

Pellegrino is a man under pressure, and knows he needs to deliver some consistent results.

Much like the last time Saints so desperately needed a win – at home against Everton – they find themselves facing probably the right kind of opposition.

Though Huddersfield, doing so well following promotion to the Premier League, secured an impressive 4-1 win at Watford last time out, their away record has been poor.

Before the victory at Vicarage Road they had not only failed to win away since the opening day of the season when they defeated Crystal Palace, but hadn’t scored a single goal.

It just underlines the importance to Saints of making this fixture count, and easing the nerves over Christmas by getting another three points on the board.

With games away to Tottenham and Manchester United to come after Santa visits, anything less than a win would leave Saints looking nervously over their shoulders as the bottom three edges ever closer.

And, barring an unexpected result at Wembley or Old Trafford, it would just heap the pressure onto the next crucial fixture, at home to Crystal Palace as the first match at St Mary’s of 2018.

What Pellegrino would ideally like is not just a pressure relieving win over Huddersfield, but something to really kickstart the season.

It’s fair to say that the two games coming up immediately after Saints face the Terriers do not look ideal for building momentum, but Pellegrino and his men need to try and remain positive.

They really don’t want a repeat of the aftermath of Everton.

Having secured a handsome 4-1 win, and a much needed confidence boost, Saints struggled to really follow it up.

Indeed, in the five games between then and now they have collected just two points, despite a few good performances in amongst it all.

Despite some edginess amongst supporters, there appears no immediate appetite for any sort of change at St Mary’s.

Those in charge would really need to hit the panic button to feel it was worthwhile, given the scrutiny they will come under if they dismiss a second manager in less than a year – and especially given the first one didn’t really do that badly.

Puel’s Leicester renaissance is also not helping matters.

While the Saints hierarchy probably never expected to see him in this country again after axing him, his appointment at Leicester, and subsequent success, not least the thrashing they handed out at St Mary’s, adds an intriguing subplot.

It is yet another thing cranking up the pressure on the St Mary’s decision makers.

There will be those who feel that the manager, or managers if you include Puel, are not to blame.

Not only might they expect more from some of the players, but also question the overall balance and makeup of the squad, and the direction the club has taken off the field too.

But, ultimately, Pellegrino is the man in the spotlight and, fairly or otherwise, he knows he needs a big result tomorrow.