Southampton face crucial decision with Nathan Jones

BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Nathan Jones, Manager of Southampton looks on during the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Southampton FC at Gtech Community Stadium on February 04, 2023 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Nathan Jones, Manager of Southampton looks on during the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Southampton FC at Gtech Community Stadium on February 04, 2023 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) /

Southampton owners Sport Republic made a massive risk by appointing Nathan Jones as a manager and it has not paid off

Nathan Jones was appointed manager of Southampton on November 10th, 2022 after Ralph Hasenhuttl was sacked earlier that week. The hiring of Nathan Jones was fairly unexpected and turned a lot of heads that someone with no previous Premier League experience was getting the opportunity to try and haul Southampton out of the relegation zone. A big advantage for Jones was that he would have plenty of time to work with the squad over the World Cup break to help integrate his system.

Nearly 3 months later, the club currently sits bottom of the Premier League and has a single Premier League win under Nathan Jones. The club has also scored just one open-play goal in the Premier League under Jones. The club is in turmoil and the toxic relationship between Jones and the supporters has grown rapidly. A fanbase that was often divided on their opinion of former manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, has become more united than ever over their protest against Sport Republic’s lack of urgency to sack Nathan Jones.

The situation has escalated further after Jones’ post-match comments following a 3-0 loss to Brentford on Saturday.

"Nathan Jones: “I’ve compromised my principles because of personnel and the way people want to play. Because of fans and so on. But no more.”"

This quote raised a lot of eyebrows as it is concerning that a manager at this level would admit that after almost 90 days in his position that he has compromised his principles while also blaming fans that he has not installed his beliefs in the squad.

Nathan Jones also responded to supporters chanting that he doesn’t know what he was doing.

"“I can understand that. To be fair, they’ve sung that at any point. Was Romeo Lavia running the game? They must have been watching a different game to me.”"

According to The Athletic’s Jacob Tanswell, higher-ups in the club were upset with the comments that Jones’ made in his post-match availability. Rasmus Ankersen, CEO of Sport Republic, has been under increased scrutiny with the Danish football executive responsible for the hiring of Nathan Jones.

Former Arsenal legend Ian Wright weighed in on Jones’ comments as well:

A bizarre situation developed on Friday before the match against Brentford as first-team players Armel Bella-Kotchap, Duje Caleta-Car and Mislav Orsic all started for Southampton’s B team against Sheffield United in the Premier League U21 Cup. Since his arrival from Marseille, Duje Caleta-Car has arguably been the most consistent defender in Southampton’s backline this season. He has quickly been phased out with the return of Jan Bednerak after he was recalled from his loan at Aston Villa.

While Bella-Kotchap may not be up to full-match fitness, Mislav Orsic going the full 90 for the U21 side struck a chord with Southampton fans. The Croatian international has gone from scoring in the World Cup 3rd place match to playing in a reserve league.

Nathan Jones began his career in management within Charlton’s academy before making a switch to Brighton when they were in the Championship. He was briefly the caretaker manager but mainly was an assistant and first-team coach. Jones first arrived in Luton in 2016 and saw the club promoted to League One in 2018. After a brief stint with Stoke in the Championship that failed miserably, winning just 6 matches in 38 games, he returned back to Luton for a second time.  Jones coached a Luton side that was heavily outperforming where they should’ve been, given the money invested into the squad. During the 21/22 season, Luton nearly was promoted to the Premier League, losing to Huddersfield Town in the promotion playoffs. Nathan Jones won EFL Championship Manager of the Year for 21/22.

Despite his success at a lower level, it has become apparent that Nathan Jones has difficulty handling the pressure of managing clubs that expect results right away rather than buying into a system and slowly building over time. What Jones’ did at Luton worked and he should be credited for that but it is time to admit that his time at Southampton has been nothing short of a disaster.

This week will be an important one for Nathan Jones and Sport Republic. It would be reasonable to assume that Rasmus Ankersen and co. are currently weighing up possible options should they choose to sack Nathan Jones before or after the Wolves match this weekend at St. Mary’s Stadium. Given the club’s position in the table and the money they have shelled out on both players and Jones, it may be difficult for Southampton to attract heavily experienced managers.

Last weekend, it looked extremely likely Nathan Jones would’ve been the next manager sacked in the Premier League but as The Top Flight has reported Jesse Marsch has been sacked by Leeds.

It is not an understatement to say that the Nathan Jones debacle is one of the most pressing issues the club has faced in recent memory. It is quite literally could be the difference between being relegated or not.