Trending now:   Chelsea  •  Arsenal  •  Manchester United  •  Liverpool  •  Bayern München  •  Manchester City  •  Real Madrid  •  Barcelona  •  Borussia Dortmund  •  Napoli

Southampton

Teams /  England  / Southampton 
Southampton have 274 fans
 
 
 
 
 
Southampton fans already fearful of another wasted season
Paul Doyle - 6 years ago

An unwelcome sense of deja vu is infesting Southampton. The club began last season with a 10-point deficit as punishment for sinking into administration during the previous campaign and results so far this season mean they risk giving their promotion rivals a similar head start. The League One favourites lie 18th in the table and have already been eliminated from the League Cup and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Even more ominously, machinations off the pitch have spawned fears that the club are lurching back into the sort of managerial instability that relatively recently sent them plummeting from the top flight to the third tier and the brink of collapse. Those chaotic days were supposed to be long gone following the club's takeover in July 2009 by the German-Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr.

Liebherr died last month but had developed such affection for the club during their brief relationship that he made provisions for continued investment after his death. The club say his family have given assurances that they will pursue his declared ambition of leading Southampton back into the Premier League within the next three years.

That ambition is shared, of course, by every Southampton fan, many of whom believed that in Alan Pardew they had a manager capable of attaining that goal ? which is why there was widespread bemusement when Pardew was sacked last Monday after a 4-0 victory at Bristol Rovers. Southampton sources claim the club have received more than 50 applications to replace him, including one from a serving Premier League manager, and plan to make an appointment this week but, before doing so, they will presumably provide their preferred candidate ? currently believed to be the Scunthorpe United manager Nigel Adkins ? with an explanation as to why Pardew was dismissed, something they have yet to offer fans.

There have been vague mutterings from club officials about arguments between Pardew and unspecified staff members at the swanky new training facilities in Staplethorpe, but it is difficult to know how much credence to give those claims.

Naturally the void created by the lack of any clear statement from the club or Pardew has been filled by all manner of rumour, but the most likely reason for Pardew's downfall would appear to be discord between him and Nicola Cortese, the chairman Liebherr put in charge of day-to-day running of the club. He has become even more influential since the erstwhile proprietor's passing.

Cortese was not Pardew's most ardent admirer and Southampton's early stuttering seems to have shattered his patience. Whereas Liebherr was loved for saving Southampton and funding lofty dreams, there is less goodwill towards Cortese, whose intentions are not well understood. Public relations do not seem to be one of the Italian's strong points ? while Liebherr has been credited with the decision to play without a shirt sponsor this season as the club mark their 125th anniversary by wearing the kit first worn by the St Mary's Young Men's Association in 1885, Cortese is blamed for banning press photographers from the stadium ? which is why the Guardian has used an illustration rather than a photograph from Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Rochdale.

Under Cortese, the club are also charging fans for the use of the car park and demanding that season tickets be paid for up-front rather than in instalments. Questions have also been asked about his influence over transfers and how much enthusiasm Pardew had for the recent recruitment of the Brazilian midfielder Guly do Prado from Cesena. What does seem certain following the team's poor start to the season is that recruitment will have to continue under the new manager.

The reason Southampton were so heavily fancied to win the league this term was that they stormed up the table in the second half of last season and were expected to carry that momentum into the new campaign. Pardew, however, had insisted prior to his dismissal that that could only be sustained with further additions to the squad and Dean Wilkins, who has succeeded him on a caretaker basis (and, in keeping with the secrecy surrounding the club, refuses to confirm whether he wants the job permanently) said after Saturday's humbling that the club need to take advantage of next week's reopening of the loan market, especially with Adam Lallana out of action for another six weeks after knee surgery.

Lallana is Southampton's most creative midfielder and his absence was again acutely felt on Saturday. Saints dominated possession but lacked imagination and incision, as in their opening?day defeat by Plymouth. All the same, they did create enough chances to at least warrant a draw and would have done so if not for another shortcoming ? with the striker Lee Barnard suspended and the top-scorer, Ricki Lambert, stifled by excellent defending by the visitors. Southampton finished sloppily, Jason Puncheon, David Connolly and Dan Harding being the main culprits.

Maybe Pardew's dismissal was rash. And maybe bookmakers were a bit hasty in making Saints favourite for the title?

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Share your thoughts

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

Newspapers
 
Blogs
 
Podcasts
 
Israeli minnows Hapoel Be'er Sheva earned a 1-1 draw at St Mary's as Southampton were knocked out of the Europa League. Charlie Austin suffered a shoulder injury in the Europa Leagu ...
Southampton Middlesbrough 2:15 PM UTC Game Details  ...
Gaston Ramirez is a doubt after missing training this week. Middlesbrough's attacking options could be stretched against Southampton with doubts over Alvaro Negredo, Gaston Ramirez and Jordan Rho ...
It has been an awful week for week for Southampton. Heavy defeat at Crystal Palace was followed by elimination from the Europa League and a serious injury to Charlie Austin, the only player who has sc ...
Preview followed by live coverage of Sunday's Premier League game between Southampton and Middlesbrough.
Southampton crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday. Claude Puel made it clear in the wake of the Jose Fonte contract furore he is not a fan of social media and it is a good job for the Frenchman ...
Israeli minnows Hapoel Be'er Sheva earned a 1-1 draw at St Mary's as Southampton were knocked out of the Europa League. Southampton's European adventure ended in Thursday' ...
Saints crashed out of the Europa League after a 1-1 draw at home to their Israeli opponents and the defender was furious with his team
Israeli minnows Hapoel Be'er Sheva earned a 1-1 draw at St Mary's as Southampton were knocked out of the Europa League.
Southampton Hapoel Be'er 1 1 FT Game Details  ...
On the night, it was not glamorous but it was a case of job done for Hapoel Be’er Sheva as the Israeli champions dumped Southampton out of the Europa League group stages. The home side were tepid th ...
Minute-by-minute updates from the 8.05pm GMT kick-offPuel says Fonte talk not a distraction ahead of decisive matchScoreboard: all the latest Europa League goals and scorers!Email scott.murray@theguar ...
A former Malta youth footballer claims his coach Bob Higgins would "shower naked" with young players.
Preview followed by live coverage of Thursday's Europa League game between Southampton and Hapoel Be'er Sheva.
• Saints defender hints at possible exit on Instagram• Saints face Hapoel in decisive Europa League clashClaude Puel has dismissed claims that uncertainty over the future of José Fonte may distra ...
Former player says he and others were given naked massages by Bob Higgins, who was club’s youth officer in 1980sThe former Southampton footballer Matt Le Tissier has revealed that he witnessed inapp ...
Matt Le Tissier played for Southampton from 1985 until 2002. Former Southampton player Matt Le Tissier has said he experienced naked massages during his younger days that made him feel "very unco ...
Former England player Matt Le Tissier says he was given a naked massage by coach at centre of sex abuse allegations.
• Football Association had initially appointed Kate Gallafent QC• Redknapp criticises FA over coach once employed by SouthamptonThe Football Association has announced that its review into child se ...
   
Kick4Life - changing lives through football