Nathan Jones' 94-day stay as Southampton manager ended on Sunday after the Saints suffered their fourth successive home Premier League defeat under his tenure, losing 2-1 to Wolves on Saturday.
The former Luton Town boss took over from Ralph Hasenhuttl in November and his team did not even play for four weeks of his three-month spell at St Mary’s, as the game’s attention turned to the World Cup in Qatar, but he is still the shortest-serving manager in the club’s history.
There is plenty of alarm around the club as they are four points adrift of safety and whoever takes over from Jones finds his new team at 4/1 to maintain their top-flight status, while Saints are 1/6 to be relegated.
|What||Chelsea v Southampton|
|Where||Stamford Bridge, London|
|When||15:00, Saturday 18th February 2023|
|Odds||Chelsea 4/11, Draw 15/4, Southampton 7/1|
While Jones had built a decent managerial reputation with two good spells at Luton, it is safe to say that many of the Saints' fans were underwhelmed when he was appointed as Hasenhuttl’s replacement.
Whilst he had taken the Hatters from mid-table in League Two to League One, and then returned to guide the Bedfordshire outfit to the Championship playoffs, many pointed to the spell in-between at Stoke City, where he won just six of his 38 matches.
Any misgivings that Saints fans initially had were only stoked by a poor start when they lost four of their first five games under his leadership and the only win in that time came in the League Cup against League One Lincoln City.
However, after that shaky start, it seemed that things might turn for the better as Jones got his feet under the table.
Southampton beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, achieved a memorable victory over Manchester City in the League Cup and then posted what would be his only league victory over Everton.
But it proved to be a brief respite as the Saints kept slipping and Jones’ days seemed to be numbered after he admitted following the 3-0 defeat at Brentford that he had let the team down.
Then came Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Wolves when Jones’ side surrendered the lead against a team who played for an hour with ten men and his time was called the following day.
Southampton’s league position is perilous and with most of Jones’s backroom staff also having departed, it will be up to assistant Ruben Selles to take the team to Chelsea for their next Premier League game.
They are 7/1 to claim a victory at Stamford Bridge, while Graham Potter’s Blues, who have not got going this season, are 4/11. The draw is available to back at 15/4.
Chelsea are the only team to have lost at St Mary’s all season and the fixture list highlights just how tough it will be for Jones’ successor to get the team back on track.
Their next home game after that is against Leicester City, who have picked themselves up with eight goals in their last two games, including four in their last road match at Aston Villa.
In between Saints host a massive six-pointer against Leeds United and are at home to League Two Grimsby Town in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The problem Southampton have is that, firstly, Leeds United are also on the hunt for a new manager following the sacking of Jesse Marsch last week and they are 12/5 to be relegated, so it could prove a more attractive job.
Also, many candidates may wish to avoid the Saints because their chances of staying in the top-flight are slim.
Three of the current fancies in the betting have already been sacked as managers this season. Steven Gerrard could welcome the chance to return after his dismissal by Villa, while it is only a few weeks since Frank Lampard left Everton.
Dean Smith’s chances took a beating with his disappointing spell with Norwich City, while former River Plate manager Marcelo Gallardo, who won 15 trophies with the Argentinian giants before leaving, could be tempted.
Other potential candidates include former Wolves and Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo, Marsch and Rafa Benitez.