Graeme Souness shocked the south-coast side by resigning yesterday after just 10 months in charge at the Dell. Last night the club were thrown into even more chaos when Lawrie McMenemy, the director of football, quit as well.
Souness, who had a spell in Italy with Sampdoria during his distinguished playing career, was being linked yesterday with the coaching vacancy at the Serie B club Torino. However, it has become clear that all was not well at the Dell. The former Liverpool and Rangers manager had asked for pounds 7m to fund his planned summer spending spree, but had been rebuffed by the Saints' new chairman, Rupert Lowe.
Souness is spending the weekend in Israel on family business, so his resignation was announced in a statement released by his solicitors. "I came to the club with high hopes and expectations for the future, but it is now clear to me that I am not able to take the club forward in the way that I would have liked," he said in the statement.
Speaking on Israeli radio last night, Souness said: "I have nothing arranged, I am now open to offers. I have been thinking about [resigning] for a long time. The situation at Southampton had changed, the people who employed me are no longer in charge of the club, there are other people in charge."
McMenemy, who was a successful and charismatic manager at the Dell from 1973 to '85, said: "Having been instrumental in bringing Graeme Souness to the club and sharing his hopes and ambitions, I now share his frustrations. The most important part of any club is its team and Premiership status. I am left therefore with no alternative than to tender my resignation."
Lowe, who does not take over officially as the Saints' chairman until 1 June, said last night: "Now is the time for looking forward. We have got a tremendous side of players, who proved their ability to compete at the highest level last season. This provides an exceptional opportunity for an ambitious manager. We will select only the best."
Souness arrived at the Dell last summer after a spell in charge of the Turkish club, Galatasaray. He spent almost pounds 5m keeping the Saints in the Premiership. One of the players signed by Souness, the Israeli midfield player Eyal Berkovitch, said yesterday: "I will go. Graeme Souness is the man who showed faith in me, and without him I do not want to stay at the club."
The Fulham manager Micky Adams, a former Southampton player, has been linked with the vacancy at the Dell.
Rotherham United, relegated to the Third Division, have appointed the manager of Southport, Ronnie Moore, a former player, as their new manager.