EASTLEIGH'S heart-wrenching sacking of manager Chris Todd was not a knee-jerk reaction to last night’s dreadful 4-2 home defeat by Dover Athletic.

According to the club’s chief executive Mark Jewell, the decision to dispense with the extraordinarily likeable 34-year-old Welshman just four games into the season was based on his points return over a longer period of time.

“Returns in football are based on league points and we’ve just not been earning enough to give us that two points-a-game average we need for promotion,” he said.

“There’s only one automatic promotion position and we want that.

“We don’t need to come out and say it, the signings we’ve brought in have made it clear what we’re trying to achieve.

“I know we’ll probably get criticism saying it’s madness to change the manager after four games, but it’s not just about this season, we’ve done the analysis on our points return over a period of time.”

That said, chairman Stewart Donald and Jewell took absolutely no pleasure ringing Todd at his Devonshire home this morning to break the bad news.

“It was a disappointing thing to have to do. Chris is such a nice guy and he was part of the club’s success as a player, coming in with (fellow centre-back) Dean Beckwith to be the catalyst for the club to go forward.

"He’s been such a positive person as a player and manager. His enthusiasm's rubbed off on everyone," said Jewell.

“You often read statements in sport saying ‘it is with regret we have to announce the departure of…’ and in this case it genuinely is with regret.

“But football is a cruel sport and things just weren’t happening. After consideration overnight and again this morning, Stew and I could not come up with another solution.

“Chris lives in Cullompton, we’re up here and we don’t meet on Wednesdays after Tuesday games, so we had to tell him by phone. Word gets out quickly in football and I needed to get to Chris before someone else did.”

With the National League campaign less than a fortnight old, Eastleigh are already eight points adrift of embryonic leaders Tranmere Rovers and the feeling was that the situation couldn’t be allowed to slide.

The next stage of ground improvements, a £1 million clubhouse complex, is now underway at the Silverlake Stadium where the club have worked hard to get average crowds approaching 2,000.

“There are so many positives,” said Jewell. “We’re averaging 1,800-1,900 gates at the Silverlake, but I can’t dress up the performance against Dover last night. It wasn’t very good and people have made their voices heard.

“We have to view the whole project at all times. We do run it as a business and the thing that needed changing was the playing style. Sadly Chris has been the fall guy in that decision.

“It’s such a harsh league that you cannot afford to lose ground. You can’t win it by Christmas, but you can get yourselves into a strong position.”

The task of finding a successor for Todd got under way immediately, but Jewell was at pains to stress that nobody had been waiting in the wings.

“We didn’t have someone lined up to step into Chris’s shoes, the decision (to sack Todd) was based purely on where the club was.

“We’ve not asked for people to send in CVs, they’ll come in anyway. It’s early doors, but we’ve had a brain-storming session and I’d like to think we can get something organised quite quickly.

“We’ll base our decision on ability and style of play. We want to play attractive, winning football that crowds will warm to.

“We want to continue growing our crowds by playing a brand of football that will make people want to come back.”

No caretaker boss has yet been appointed, but Todd's assistant Ben Strevens will organise training tomorrow in the build-up to Saturday's trip to Wrexham.