Daily Echo:

Whether you wanted Claude Puel to remain in charge of Saints or not, given the way the last few months have gone the club made the correct decision in sacking him.

That’s not to say it was the right thing to do from a football sense, or that a new man will do any better. Those are points of contention right now.

But when the board – not to mention the fans and parts of the dressing room - lose faith in a manager, as Saints so clearly had done with Puel, then it is the right thing to do to make a clean break.

The very worse situation is to cling on and hope for something better to happen. It never does, and if you don’t believe in your manager from the very top then it seeps down and infiltrates everything.

Inevitably the sacking ends up coming anyway, just at a more inopportune time – if anyone needs an example remember what happened with Paul Sturrock.

Claude Puel will no doubt look back on his year at St Mary’s with a feeling of ‘what on earth happened there?’ He leaves with no doubt a healthy pay-off, and, despite being sacked, his reputation firmly intact. He will have no problem heading back to France and getting another good job.

The odd situation at St Mary’s is that most neutrals are stunned by this development.

They look at Saints, especially shorn of Charlie Austin and Virgil van Dijk for half the season, and reckon eighth, even given a significant points drop from the previous year’s tally, and the EFL Cup final is a fine effort.

Indeed, there is every reason to think that too.

Put simply, anybody who thinks that what Puel had to work with last season was good enough to finish above any of the top seven is deluded. Therefore, he achieved the best result possible.

However, nearer the club things didn’t feel so rosy.

Puel’s communication problems meant that he was never really able to properly explain what he was trying to achieve – and it is amazing how a good talker can buy themselves a lot of grace with the fans.

Therefore the only thing to judge Puel on was performances and results. Results were acceptable but patchy, the notable exception the horrific exit from the Europa League.

Given the weakness of the group Saints found themselves in this was far below what should have been expected.

Performances in general were often dour, especially at home. Sadly most Saints fans don’t get to see their club on the road too many times, which was a shame for Puel as it was where his counter attacking style played out best.

But at St Mary’s it was not good. The entertainment factor was sadly lacking, and if you aren’t winning every game people find that hard to forgive.

Sadly for Puel, the end was not a dignified one.

Say what you like about him as a manager, but he is a decent person, and gave his all for Saints in his year here.

To hear the abuse he got on the final day of the season was gut wrenching. The handful of us who saw him afterwards could see how emotional and hurt he was by what was cruel and undeserved treatment.

And it didn’t look great also that the club took a long time over this decision. Yes, it was off season, but even so the axe felt so inevitable, and his position had become so untenable as a result of the wait, that the end could have come sooner.

But in football ‘the king is dead, long live the king’ and now the hunt for a successor gears up.

Saints have a very short shortlist. They wouldn’t have pulled the trigger if they didn’t think they could get what they want.

Going high profile would be popular with the fans but would open up a whole new can of worms in terms of the structure of the club, which is why there weren’t many tears shed from upon high when Ronald Koeman left.

But if you go for somebody who ticks all the other boxes Saints want, then you end up with…Claude Puel. Or at least another version of him.

It’s a big decision to make.

And if eighth and the EFL Cup final isn’t good enough, then, barring an injection of money into the squad, the new man has a tough job to better Puel, even if the lack of faith in him meant a parting of the ways was the correct course of action.