Jones makes it a bad day at the office for Wilkins

Southampton 0 Rochdale 1

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.

exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor