It’s official. Nathan Jones has been sacked by Southampton.
After a run of one win and seven losses in eight Premier League games saw the Saints slip to the foot of the table, the St Mary’s hierarchy were left with no other choice but to dismiss the enigmatic Welshman.
There was a sense of optimism when he arrived having worked wonders with Luton Town (they were among the best pound-for-pound teams in Europe, according to Jones). So what went wrong? Why did this tenure end in spectacular failure?
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton were among the Premier League’s most inconsistent sides. They would have stretches where they looked startlingly similar to Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, but then lose six matches in a row and get battered 9-0 every now and then.
But for all of their flaws and all of the frustration, Hasenhuttl’s Saints were very easy to identify. They pressed high, if a little too high. They were ambitious with possession, if a little too ambitious. The time was probably right for him to go in order to save their season, the Austrian’s voice having lost authority in the dressing room.
To go for Jones made sense in that he had done very well with Luton despite limited resources. But he admitted it was tough compromising his style and philosophy with bigger stars and bigger egos.
In the end, Southampton played like a team desperate to get results without actually getting them. It was time to go. To quote Saints fans, ‘Nathan Jones, your football is sh*t’.
Jones is an interesting character. He’s very honest and genuine in his press conferences, doesn’t really have a filter.
That’s all well and good if you’re getting results, but when you’re knee-deep in a relegation battle and are unable to buy a league win against sides who don’t employ Frank Lampard, you need a little bit more than quirkiness.
At the back end of his tenure, Jones would shift blame to others around him – players, fans, the board. He would follow up these suggestions with other weird comments and usually end with a reference to his devout Christianity.
It wasn’t enough to save his job.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles played as a centre-back in Jones’ final game. Jan Bednarek was recalled from Aston Villa for some reason. Romeo Lavia and Samuel Edozie were hooked when they were Southampton’s best performers at Brentford.
Jones is smarter footballing mind than you or I, but he really didn’t act like it when in charge of a Premier League club.