Jones makes it a bad day at the office for Wilkins
Southampton 0 Rochdale 1
Sunday 05 September 2010
On the face of it, the managerial position at Southampton should be one of the most attractive in English football. Admittedly, a club that rubbed shoulders with the elite in the top tier of English football for 27 successive seasons have fallen from grace over the past few years and currently content themselves with visits to such far-flung League One outposts as Exeter and Hartlepool.
But the 32,000-capacity St Mary's Stadium, impressive training facilities and even the strength of a fully fit squad suggest the infrastructure is in place for Southampton to ease back into the Championship and then concentrate on a return to the Premier League.
Why then are they searching for their 15th manager in a little over 10 years? It appears that every time someone arrives at the club with the knowledge and experience to build or rebuild, he is jettisoned by person or persons at boardroom level who think they know better.
The former chairmen Rupert Lowe had accusing fingers pointed at him by many Southampton supporters for interfering too much in team affairs and transfer dealings. Now the boardroom power is in the grip of executive chairman Nicola Cortese
Alan Pardew became their latest managerial casualty, shown the exit less than 48 hours after he masterminded an impressive 4-0 victory at Bristol Rovers.
His departure remains a mystery. Rumours are rife that Cortese deliberately waited until after the best performance of the campaign to oust Pardew, to show it was not results related.
Within days of Pardew's exit, Cortese received some 16 applications, many from highly respected candidates. A rapid replacement should have been a formality, like most clubs with promotion aspirations would want. But this is no ordinary football club, even if Cortese appears to be a typical chairman – one who seemingly pretends to know much more about the game than he actually does. A banker of Swiss-Italian origin, Cortese's position at Saints became even stronger a month ago following the death of the owner Markus Liebherr. He is the man who will listen to the views of others, and then decide himself who succeeds Pardew. He is thought to be leaning towards a coach, possibly from Italy, who would work closely alongside – or more likely under – Les Reed, the club's director of football in everything but name.
Cortese insists it will be "however long it takes" to name Pardew's successor, so in the meantime the former assistant Dean Wilkins has been put in temporary charge. It was Wilkins who prowled the St Mary's technical area yesterday, hoping to impress Cortese, but winning few friends from off the terraces. Rochdale could not have envisaged such a comfortable afternoon and enjoyable trip home.
The visitors took the lead in injury time of the first half, Chris O'Grady steering a shot through the legs of Kelvin Davis in the Saints goal after a clever break by the captain Gary Jones, and when Jones struck a 25-yard shot midway through the second half to double the advantage it became even sweeter for Rochdale, while the Saints faithful responded with chants of "there's only one Alan Pardew".
Keith Hill, the Rochdale manager, said: "It is an incredible feeling to come to a place like Southampton and win. These are very special days for a club like Rochdale. You have to play with bravery to secure such results." Jones added: "That was the best goal I have ever scored. We can surprise a few teams this season."
The Saints caretaker Wilkins was left to muse on a bad day at the office. Perhaps this Southampton managerial vacancy is not such a good prospect after all.
Latest in Sport
James Rodriguez to Real Madrid: Would Colombian star fit in with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale?
William Carvalho to Arsenal? Gunners make new enquiry for £35m rated midfielder
Manchester United transfer news: More signings expected, indicates Ed Woodward
WWE Battleground 2014 results: John Cena and The Miz are the big winners on a night to forget in Tampa, Florida
Chelsea transfer news: Completed summer deals - including Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas
- 1 Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
- 2 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 3 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 4 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains