MAURICIO Pellegrino has bought himself time at the Saints helm just when it looked like it was about to run out on him.

The chants of ‘sacked in the morning’ after West Bromwich Albion went 1-0 up at The Hawthorns in Saturday’s remarkable 3-2 comeback win were like the tolling of the final bell on Pellegrino’s reign.

The Argentine was a bloodied boxer still in the ring but with his consciousness coming and going. What it felt like early at West Brom was watching the final painful throes of an uneasy time in Saints’ history.

But football has a funny way of throwing the unexpected at you, and by full-time Pellegrino was not hanging on for dear life anymore but noticeably buoyant in his post-match press conference.

With increasingly deafening voice of the fans calling for Pellegrino to leave Saints and someone new to come in, the 46-year-old has remained calm and collected.

It’s admirable and shows the man’s class that he hasn’t been drawn in to stronger statements. It was similar with Claude Puel.

Never did the Frenchman deviate from his narrative – no matter how dull it was – and step into a battle of words. Look how that ended.

Anyway, that’s the past, and Pellegrino’s a different man in a far more desperate set of circumstances. It’s no surprise the fans want him out.

He needed the win at West Brom badly and his team choice was a good one. He’s often struggled to find the right team to suit the opponents or the game scenario, but this was a good one just in the nick of time.

Guido Carrillo was the focal point in attack upfront on his own and while there were some loose touches from the £19.2m club-record signing, there were also moments where it was clear he could bring together this disjointed attack.

With Dusan Tadic, Sofiane Boufal and James Ward-Prowse close enough to him in attacking midfield, he wasn’t often isolated. There were also signs of relationships, especially with Tadic, who has history of building successful partnerships with big men striker, like Carrillo.

This section of the team is still a work in progress, but Pellegrino was pleased with what he saw from Carrillo at The Hawthorns and there’s reason for hope.

Further back in deep midfield, Oriol Romeu and particularly Mario Lemina impressed.

Sometimes it just takes a moment of genius to change the course of a match, a season even. Saints have often been without that moment of magic.

Boufal did just that late on against West Brom back in October, surging from his own half to score the winning goal in the 85th minute in the 1-0 win at St Mary’s.

It was the same for Lemina here. On 40 minutes, with Saints 1-0 down after Ahmed Hegazi’s fourth-minute opener, his glorious strike from 25 yards from Boufal’s lay off was utterly superb, a moment when you could feel that Saints had a fire in their bellies.

It felt like Lemina threw a cannister of petrol on this fire. His statement after Wednesday night’s miserable 1-1 draw against Brighton, talking of fight and saying sorry for their failures this season, was an indication that the Gabon international’s heart is in this fight.

He looked like that player he was when he ran the show in Saints’ 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in September.

An ankle injury set the 24-year-old back for some time, but he was back in style at The Hawthorns. He was quality and if he’s back to his old self, he could be massive for the club, especially if he can pop up with a few more belters like in this one.

Jack Stephens, who netted a stunning header, which lopped over Ben Foster, to make it 2-1 on 43 minutes is another important player in these times. He let go Hegazi for the opener from Chris Brunt's corner and later said he owed the team a goal after that error.

Three vitals goals in three games – his only goals for the club – means he’s Saints joint-third top-scorer and, not only that, the passion he shows for the cause is excellent. He cares and it shows.

The 24-year-old, who has been at the club since he was 16, is a man you want in this relegation scrap and his past three goals and subsequent celebrations prove just that. His importance to the team grows on a weekly basis.

James Ward-Prowse, the longest-serving member of the team, was also in fine fettle at West Brom.

He combined with Stephens for the first goal, his wonderful corner finding the centre-back at the near post to head home.

Only Charlie Austin has scored more than Ward-Prowse (4) for Saints this season, and his free-kick goal, which made it 3-1, will only boost his growing confidence.

Of course, Saints are far from out of trouble and, as Pellegrino says, they must be humble. They must build on this result or they’ll be back in the relegation zone before they know.

Games against Liverpool and Burnley are to come now and they are not easy.

Pellegrino has come away with the bare minimum from a massive week, but the four points Saints did collect and the style of Saints’ victory on Saturday are promising.

There has been moments of promise already this season and they’ve turned out to be false dawns. It’s time for Pellegrino to prove the Baggies win is not just an anomaly.