The Premier League’s bottom side have sacked manager Nathan Jones after just 14 games in charge.
A 2 – 1 home defeat to Wolves proved to be the final straw for the club’s board, and they are now looking for their third manager this season.
However, whoever now takes charge of the club will have a major job on their hands keeping the club in the Premier League. They are three points adrift at the bottom, four points from safety, and they have played a game more than most of the other teams in the relegation fight.
They also have a significantly worse goal difference.
Premier League managerial casualties
Jones became the eighth Premier League manager to lose his job so far this season and the third in a matter of weeks. Frank Lampard was sacked by Everton last month, whilst Leeds United relieved Jesse Marsch of his responsibilities last week.
Southampton had begun the season with Ralph Hasenhüttl in charge of the club, but he was sacked after a poor run of results.
Jones had no answers
Jones had been appointed just before the World Cup break, signing a three-and-a-half-year contract. He had impressed in the Championship with Luton Town, steering them into the play-off picture in the Championship, but moving to the Premier League proved a step too far for him.
The substantial minority of Southampton fans who wondered if he lacked the experience for such a job have been proved right. His tenure proved to be the shortest of any permanent manager in the club’s history.
However, that was not the shortest in the history of the Premier League. That unhappy record remains with Les Reed who lasted just 40 days at Charlton in 2006 before he was shown the door.
And that is despite being backed heavily in the January transfer window, with the club bringing in Carlos Alcáraz, Kamaldeen Sulemana, Paul Onuachu, and Mislav Orsić.
Wolves defeat the last straw
After a 3 – 0 defeat to Brentford in their last game, Jones knew that he was on borrowed time.
Following that defeat, Jones had made some comments about compromising his coaching style and having to deal with certain people at the club that prompted them to hold an internal review.
Yet the game against Wolves started well for the home side. Alcáraz put them ahead, and then the visitors were reduced to 10 men, when Mario Lemina was sent off. Already on a yellow card, he foolishly showed dissent to the referee and was carded for a second time.
Yet after the break, confidence drained out of the team, and Wolves were able to come from behind thanks to an own goal and a strike from Joāo Gomes.
Wolves provide a blueprint
If Southampton wanted a blueprint as to getting a managerial appointment right, then they needed to look no further than the opposition dugout on Saturday.
The Midlands side were bottom of the Premier League themselves going into the World Cup break, but after Spaniard Julen Lopetegui, they have now risen to 15th place, five points above the relegation zone.
Who might succeed him?
Speculation has started as to who might succeed him. Although as Leeds United are finding to their cost, it can be difficult to get the right candidate.
Whoever they do appoint needs to be able to get the respect of both the team and the fans, and have a clear tactical plan of how they want to play, something the Jones seemed to lack.
One name already being touted is former manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is out of work since leaving his job at PSG in the summer.
He managed the club between 2013 and 2014 before moving to Spurs, whom he took to the final of the Champions League.
However, whether he would be prepared to return to the South Coast club is another matter entirely. He has been linked with a host of bigger clubs, and noises are that another of his former club Spurs may be looking for a new manager in the summer.
And then there is former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, who came close to taking the Everton job before it went to Sean Dyche.
Relegation firefighter Sam Allardyce is also in the frame, although he is now 68 years old, and has not had a job in football since leaving West Brom in 2021.
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