Daily Echo:

Saints face a massive decision as they aim to find the right successor for Claude Puel.

Much is often made of the club’s scouting and recruitment, and that they keep an up-to-date list of potential managers so they are ready to move quickly if they find themselves needing a new one.

Here, the Daily Echo’s chief sports writer, Adam Leitch, takes a look at some of the factors that Les Reed is likely to be considering as he prepares to play the role of king maker once again.


Saints see themselves as a club on the precipice of breaking through to join the big time, which means regular European football.

As a result they aren’t too keen on taking a punt on somebody with little experience.

You are unlikely to ever see Saints appoint some former top level player who wants to jump into management.

Instead, they want to see a career of progress, with at least one club but preferably more.

Also important is that experience of getting a club into Europe and then managing in European competition, as that is where Saints are aspiring to go.

Any manager also needs to be able to demonstrate they have handled top level players, which is an art all of its own these days, and seems particularly important for the club right now given some of the disharmony.

Big time or not?

Probably the most difficult decision Saints face is whether to go ‘high profile’ or not.

There is a fair argument to be made that now is the right time to appoint a big name manager, just as Saints did when they hired Ronald Koeman.

There is a squad to calm down, an air of authority needed to keep players at the club, and a strong minded individual required to really force their own plans through.

However, it is something that is a real dilemma for the club. Indeed, you might suggest this is the biggest dilemma of their managerial hunt.

Saints had an issue with Koeman. He became too big to handle.

Saints like to work in much more of a business style than a traditional football style. But Koeman was hugely successful and popular with the fans, and so soon decided he wanted control and to do things on his terms.

If you go ‘high profile’ that is normally what you end up with sooner or later.

But to go for somebody without that profile, and potentially therefore that lack of authority, particularly with the players, would be a risky business right now given where the club find themselves.

Willingness to work in a structure Part of the problem of a ‘high profile’ manager is that they like to have things done in their own way.

Saints, however, want the manager to be part of a set structure within the club, which Claude Puel certainly was.

That willingness to accept you have Les Reed, Ross Wilson, whatever coaching staff are permanently there and so on will not fit lots of managers, and again many big names could be put off.

Saints need somebody not only to be willing to accept that initially, but also as time goes on, otherwise things can get fractious behind the scenes.


The much talked about ‘Southampton Way’ feels more than ever like a piece of marketing jargon rather than something tangible.

Saints need to restore faith in their methods with the supporters, and to an extent some of the players and staff as well.

The club do want to play attractive, passing and attacking football. That Puel’s side ended up being so dour and dull much of the time was ultimately his major undoing.

Any new manager will need to be able to convince that they have a plan not only to bring results but to do it in a certain way.

Playing the youngsters One of the club’s biggest boasts is developing young talent.

Part of the issue with Koeman was that there was a feeling from upon high at the club that he blocked the pipeline to the first team. He argued that was because he didn’t believe there were players good enough to make it.

Most managers coming in will want to splash out and bring in new faces.

As it stands right now, Saints are confident that they don’t really need too much more, just a few additional signings.

They want to see a new manager progress what the club already has, and field some of the youngsters and aid their development.

That will likely rule out some big name bosses who will take Koeman’s stance.


This is two-fold.

Firstly in terms of the transfer budget, which was discussed above. The new man will have to accept that there is not going to be cash splashed all over the place and work within that constraint.

Secondly in terms of hiring that manager.

Saints have paid had to pay a fair old whack to get rid of Puel, and so are unlikely to be wanting to splash large amounts of compensation on getting a manager who already has a job out of a club. Therefore, an out of work boss might make more sense if the right person is available.


One of the major criticisms of Puel was his inability to really communicate effectively.

A bit of that was the language barrier, but the most significant part was that it was just his personality. He was a quietly spoken and reserved chap, which is totally at odds with what the stereotype of the modern Premier League manager, who has to be a commanding personality.

Saints didn’t want Puel to use a translator having felt they got trapped by it under Mauricio Pochettino, but it didn’t go so well this time round either.

Saints will seriously consider how well a manager presents themselves to the media this time around.

The future

In the same way Saints were disappointed that Pochettino and Koeman showed little loyalty to them, they didn’t show too much to Puel either. It’s just the modern game.

Saints are now seen as a stepping stone club, a gateway to the top teams if you like, but they would like to be a little more than that.

Therefore they will be hoping to try and attract somebody who doesn’t see it as a job just for a couple of years with a view to moving on the second they achieve any measure of success.