Steve Wigley made a hugely significant comment on Saturday evening which was lost in the welter of gloom that surrounded Southampton's defeat away to Fulham. "I feel as though it is important we get a win soon for the points per game ratio," the head coach said. His argument was that at this stage of the season it needs to be a point per game.
Choosing to take a mathematical approach to such an emotional job invites immediate analysis - after all isn't that what the Southampton chairman, Rupert Lowe, supposedly did when deciding to dispense with Paul Sturrock?
So here are the records. Wigley has been in charge for seven games (including two as caretaker before Sturrock arrived). Southampton have won none, lost four and drawn three. He therefore has three points. Sturrock oversaw 13 matches. He won five, lost six and drew two, gaining 17 points. Wigley will have to win five of his next six to better that. And that was a total which did not, after all, keep Sturrock in a job. At this rate Wigley will not reach that mark.
Of course the statistics don't tell the whole story - each one of Wigley's defeats, for example, has been by the odd goal and only the brilliance of Edwin van der Sar denied a victory against Fulham - but neither does the table lie. And it is only the poverty of the three promoted teams which is propping Southampton up. Add to that the discontent of the fans - "what a load of rubbish" was the only repeatable chant - directed at Wigley and Lowe and the amazing sight of an experienced international slumped by the side of the dug-out with his head in his hands after being substituted. Furthermore Anders Svensson had been Southampton's best player. Little wonder he was bewildered.
It's not all Wigley's fault. He is a good coach and appears to have the makings of a decent manager if he gains his Pro-Licence. But not in these circumstances. Wigley is naturally defiant and dismissed talk of his job being under threat. "I don't think it is at that stage at all."
Fulham won through Tomasz Radzinski's finely worked header but, after what manager Chris Coleman described harshly as a "mediocre" display, were left hanging on as Van der Sar defied James Beattie, a wasteful Kevin Phillips and, most spectacularly, Rory Delap in the closing minutes. But hang on they did. And that was the difference. "I knew very much that I would have to get results," Wigley said. He still hasn't done so.
Goal: Radzinski (24) 1-0.
Fulham (4-4-2): Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Pearce, Green; Malbranque (McKinlay, 85), Pembridge, Legwinski, Boa Morte; McBride, Radzinski (John, 72). Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Rehman, Goma.
Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi; Nilsson, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Le Saux; Fernandes, Delap, Prutton, A Svensson (McCann, 61); Phillips, Beattie. Substitutes not used: Blayney (gk), Kenton, Higginbotham, Crouch.
Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).
Booked: Southampton: McCann.
Man of the match: Edwin Van der Sar.
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