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.

Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch