Southampton

Teams /  England  / Southampton 
Southampton have 228 Fans
 
 
 
 
Southampton fans already fearful of another wasted season
Paul Doyle - 3 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
Sign in to comment

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

Newspapers
 
Blogs
 
Podcasts
 
Reports claim Shaw heading for Manchester United or Chelsea Decision will be made by Southampton board says managerEngland defender Luke Shaw's future at Southampton will be decided by the club's boar ...
Mauricio Pochettino has warned off potential suitors for Luke Shaw by saying he expects the in-demand defender to be a Southampton player next season.
Southampton's board will make the call on in-demand England defender Luke Shaw's future, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Southampton's board will make the call on in-demand England defender Luke Shaw's future, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Southampton's new chairman Ralph Krueger says that key players will not be sold to pay off club debts.
The Argentine manager has continually refused to pledge his future to St Mary's Stadium beyond the end of the season but the Saints' new chief is optimistic of keeping him there
Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger insists the south-coast club are doing everything in their power to "keep this group together".
The vultures may be circling overhead but Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger insists the south-coast club are doing everything in their power to "keep this
The vultures may be circling overhead but Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger insists the south-coast club are doing everything in their power to "keep this
In his first interview as Southampton chairman, Krueger talks about his ice hockey career, his best-selling book and how he is going to make Mauricio Pochettino stay at the clubRalph Krueger begins wi ...
Premier League champions believe they can beat Chelsea to secure the highly-regarded England player as they aim to start rebuilding their squad in earnest
Manager insists enraging his team can be key to survival Juan Cala gives Cardiff an unlikely 1-0 win against SaintsSo much for anger management. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Cardiff manager, reckons he s ...
Southampton midfielder Steven Davis admitted they lacked a cutting edge up front in the 1-0 defeat to Cardiff on Saturday.
Peter Whittingham believes Cardiff have given themselves a "fighting chance" of staving off relegation with their victory at Southampton.
Peter Whittingham believes Cardiff have given themselves a "fighting chance" of staving off relegation with their smash-and-grab win at Southampton.
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes their 1-0 victory at Southampton can act as the catalyst to a great escape.
Saints dominated their home clash with struggling Cardiff City but were undone by a fine Juan Cala strike and failed to find a way past David Marshall
Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes their surprise 1-0 Premier League win at Southampton on Saturday can galvanise his relegation-threatened side
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has rued his side's failure to take their chances against Cardiff City at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday.
Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino was left to rue a killer touch as they went down to a surprise 1-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Cardiff at St Mary's.

Latest Photo Galleries

Alan Shearer's career in pictures
5 years ago
The moments that defined the career of a Newcastle legend
   
Kick4Life - changing lives through football