JOHN Gorman and Jason Dodd are going to have to show their managerial mettle sooner than they, or anybody else, would have hoped.

Having been given the job for the foreseeable future was a boost for them and a vote for stability at this point in time.

Foreseeable future' is a terrific phrase because it sets no out-andout time limit.

If they do at least fairly well then they will surely be allowed to see out the season. If not, then a permanent appointment can be made at any time.

But they are going to have to show a ruthless streak as managers to turn things around.

Dodd and Gorman were a popular choice for the players to remain in charge. But as football has constantly shown us, popular managers aren't always the most successful.

It's hard to imagine Alex Ferguson winning many popularity contests in his Manchester United squad, even when they are flying high.

The thing Dodd and Gorman do have on their side is that the players respect them and that's more than half the battle won.

But being a manager is often a very lonely existence. You are left to make big decisions every week, every day, on your own.

No matter how good your backroom staff is, as a manager you feel the pressure quite severely.

Dodd and Gorman are managing by committee, something which has not traditionally worked, and they need to show they are not afraid to be unpopular.

In a football club if you have a whole squad of happy players then you have serious problems - you only ever want 11 happy players at any one time.

To be a manager is to drop players, to lay into them when necessary, to make tough decisions that might put noses out of joint.

Gorman and Dodd are surely capable of doing that, they will have to be now, but would surely have hoped for a little more of a honeymoon period first.

The grim facts of the matter don't lie and it's uncomfortable, particularly for those at the top of the club.

It makes no difference how often people are told there is a good squad in place or you had no choice but to let players go if the team don't win.

The judgement is on results and when fans see a side struggle so much to take plentiful chances, with their most prolific striker out on loan, and a central midfielder having to play at left back, with a man who can play left back out on loan, they will not be happy.

One win in the last ten league games, eight points out of 30 in that time, 18th in the Championship table, only bottom club Colchester having conceded as many goals tells its own story.

It's not Dodd and Gorman's doing.

But it's their mess to sort out.

Saints could have been home and hosed by half-time against QPR and instead went in trailing at the break and ended up losing their seventh - yes, seventh - home game of the campaign.

It started well with Adam Hammill's whipped free-kick from the edge of the area being turned home by Darren Powell and possibly a deflection to give Saints the lead after just 55 seconds.

It was a pulsating first half where both teams kept the ball down and tried to play football.

After Bradley Wright-Phillips had glanced a header wide, Saints had two glorious opportunities in the space of a minute.

First Andrew Surman's defencesplitting pass played in Wright- Phillips but his finish was weak and straight at Lee Camp.

Amazingly, Saints intercepted the ball back out again and found themselves with three men in behind the QPR defence.

Jason Euell squared to Stern John who just had to sidefoot home from 12 yards and could even have taken a touch, but blazed his effort a mile over.

Inevitably, Saints paid the price.

Three minutes later the scores were level, Rowan Vine finding Martin Rowlands in the area and he stabbed low past the advancing Kelvin Davis.

On the stroke of half-time, QPR had the lead, Hammill giving the ball away cheaply, Damien Delaney crossing from the right where Patrick Agyemang peeled off the back of Jermaine Wright and volleyed home.

Saints went on to make life very hard for themselves by conceding a comical third goal on 61 minutes.

Camp pumped the ball up the field and it landed outside the area.

Davis came out to clear, while Wright was chasing back under pressure from Agyemang and tried to do who knows what with the ball on his thigh.

It all resulted in the two Saints men watching on outside the box as Agyemang gratefully walked the ball into the empty net.

It got even worse when Youssef Safri was sent off 12 minutes from time.

He won the ball in a challenge with Agyemang but referee Anthony Taylor felt his follow through was an act of violence and now the captain serves a fourmatch ban.

John pulled a goal back late on but it was too little too late.

There are tough decisions to be made and it's up to Dodd and Gorman to show what they can do.

Let's hope they are backed up by the players.

Daily Echo Man of the Match: ANDREW DAVIES Was easily the best Saints player on the day and is so strong even when others are struggling.