(Adds quotes in paras 12-14)
By Peter Simpson
SOUTHAMPTON, England Jan 16 (Reuters) - Mauricio Pochettino will not follow Southampton's chief executive out the door, but will instead stay at the helm of the Premier League club, he said on Thursday.
Speculation had mounted that the Argentine would quit after Nicola Cortese, the man credited with driving Southampton's renaissance as a force in England, resigned on Wednesday.
But the 41-year-old told reporters he was "100% committed" to Southampton. "I have a professional responsibility to everyone at the club, and to the fans," he said.
Pochettino had suggested last May that he would leave the south coast club were Cortese to quit St Mary's, but explained hic change of heart.
"It was a completely different situation eight months ago, I was speaking at the end of my first season," he said at a news conference at Southampton's ground.
"We are in the next process of this club... and I spoke to Nicola Cortese about this... I am committed to this club, the staff, fans, players, the society of this club. It makes no sense to leave in the middle of this path.
"I want to express my complete gratitude to Nicola Cortese for bringing me and my family to the club. Nicola agrees with my decision to stay. He asked me for only one thing -- and that was to try to win on Saturday against Sunderland."
Club owner Katharina Liebherr has taken the role of non-executive chairman and a search has begun for a Chief Executive Officer.
Pochettino said he had met briefly with Liebherr who had stressed her trust in him.
"I spoke to her for five minutes and she transmitted to me her full trust and to the staff," Pochettino said.
"There was not time to speak to her about the future. It was a quick hello and goodbye, and she transmitted her trust."
Pochettino moved to snuff out rumours that rival clubs were circling, ready to take advantage of the turmoil at St Mary's and snap up some of their talent including highly fancied full-back Luke Shaw.
"I want to make this clear. No players will be for sale at Southampton FC," he said.
"My belief has not changed from a week ago. No players that I want at this club will be sold."
Southampton sit ninth in the 20-team English top flight with 30 points from their 21 matches so far -- some 18 points off the lead. (Editing by Ossian Shine)
- Sports & Recreation
- Mauricio Pochettino
- Nicola Cortese