Timing biggest shock of Pardew axing

FourFourTwo.com blogger and Southampton fan Chris Cox on Alan Pardew's departure from St Mary's...

Alan Pardew’s sacking is many things, but least of all a surprise.

The writing had been on the wall for quite a while, ever since the former Reading and West Ham coach had failed to achieve a play-off spot last season. Supposedly in return for some investment in the first team (buying Jason Puncheon, Lee Barnard, Dan Seaborne…) last January, Pardew would have to achieve the goal of finishing in the top six.

Assuming he got the team to an unlikely third to sixth placed finish, he wouldn’t have even had to win in the subsequent games. It was just a matter of keeping his word and with the new players, they would overcome the odds, beating their doubters and that ten point deduction to end the season with an effort to get back into the Championship at the first attempt. He failed to do so.

Perhaps the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy was his saving grace. It looked all rather ominous, that glorious shot at a play-off spot, despite Saints knocking four past Carlisle and taking home silverware for the first time in 34 years, and indeed they left themselves with too much ground to cover with only a few games left. That silverware probably bought Pardew a bit more time – how could the board sack a man who had just won a trophy and got the biggest round of applause of all as he picked up his medal at Wembley?

What surprising is the timing of the decision to sack Pardew. Forget the fact it came on the back of a four-goal win away from home – in the grand scheme of things, that’s not important. The fact is he had spent the summer teaching the team his methods and bringing in yet more players to fit his system, the likes of Ryan Dickson and Danny Butterfield. It seems bizarre that the board were willing to let the team be fully accustomed by his methods and ideas to take the club forward, only for them to have to learn a completely different set of ways from scratch under a new manager just three league games later.

The Saints board, unlike boards of years gone by, seem to want the best for the club. So with that in mind one would have to assume something was going badly wrong behind the scenes for Pardew to be sacked now. Indeed, the BBC is speculating that members of staff were even resigning in protest at his methods.

Add to that the question of who is better qualified or in general a better manager than Alan Pardew to take over. A look around League One suggests that Saints won’t be looking to poach someone else. A study of those names that are looking for a new job doesn’t fill many hearts with hope either, unless Martin O’Neill fancies a quick return to management…

Whatever the explanation for Pardew’s dismissal, even the greatest of optimists must look at Saints now as being in danger of failing to live up to their pre-season favourites label. Just when it seems things are getting better for Southampton, it all changes once again...

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