Steve Wigley's short reign as Southampton's manager seems certain to end on Saturday unless his side beat Portsmouth, with signs that resignation, not sacking, will bring about his departure.
Wigley was particularly distressed after Tuesday's 5-2 defeat at Watford in the League Cup, which followed a performance he described as "horrific and unacceptable". He has indicated to his players that one more bad result will spell the end for him, and it is understood he is minded to step down if Southampton lose this weekend. "Ultimately it is me that takes responsibility because that is what happens in this job," Wigley said yesterday. "Players can be here for a long time but people like me are vulnerable."
Southampton have not won a Premiership match in the 10 games since Wigley succeeded Paul Sturrock in August. Their only league win of the season was against Blackburn under Sturrock, who was only in the post for five months.
Rupert Lowe, despite his reputation as an "axe man" chairman, has only actually sacked one manager, Stuart Gray, during his time at Southampton. He would be reticent about disposing of Wigley, who he considers a good coach, not least because he wants to see vindication of his faith in an internal promotion.
Yet if Wigley does not win against Portsmouth, and his self-confidence appears as fragile as on Tuesday, Lowe would have no choice but to accept Wigley's resignation and search for a third manager of the season.