Saints are, quite literally, having to count the cost of failure once again.

The sacking of Mark Hughes makes it three managers axed – and a potential £30m spent on pay-offs – in just 537 days.

When the new manager is appointed it will be a fourth permanent Saints boss in just under 18 months.

That record is, frankly, abysmal.

Saints have moved to apportion much of that blame already by chopping vice chairman of football Les Reed, but there are also questions to be answered by Ralph Krueger, and owners Gao Jisheng, and, particularly, Katharina Liebherr.

Given that the majority of fans would surely agree that the squad is short of quality, to have wasted so much money on a merry-go-round of managers, not to mention the disruption it brings, is bordering on the shambolic.

In some ways getting rid of Hughes is an easier decision.

After all, he was Reed’s man, and with Reed gone it’s fairly easy to shrug the shoulders and ask what more can be done? But these changes have still been sanctioned.

And, for a club running as a self-sufficient business without external investment, this all feels like yet more money wasted to follow the cash thrown into the wind with terrible signings like Guido Carrillo and some bizarre eye-watering contract extensions.

As for whether this is the correct decision from a footballing sense, the jury has to be out.

Though results have been lacking in recent weeks there has been a sense of progress.

Certainly the 2-2 draw with Manchester United, though not the win fans were hoping for at 2-0 up, gave cause for optimism.

Indeed, the last week after the international break saw three improving displays.

However, the rub is that they haven’t been matched by results.

Hughes departs with a record of three wins in 22 Premier League games.

He was certainly the right man for the job when he came in at the back end of last season following the decision to sack Mauricio Pellegrino. Though most would have expected an eight point haul from eight games to relegate Saints, the way the season panned out that wasn’t the case, and Hughes got the most out of his team at vital moments.

His management of the crucial match at Swansea, hotel-gate, arrival-gate, and all, was like a conductor leading an orchestra. It was masterful and the spirit he managed to engender through clever manipulation of the situation saw them through.

Fast forward to the summer and the decision was made for him to be handed the job permanently, but seemingly without any sort of formal recruitment process.

Perhaps it was a sign of the weakness of the board at that moment, and how bloodied and bruised they felt.

In a club which prides itself on detail and doing everything in the correct manner it seemed as this was just the easy decision to take.

Reed, Krueger and co knew that to overlook Hughes for the job could cause uproar among fans after the Welshman had kept them up. Or, indeed, that if it went badly under a new manager then the pressure would really be on them.

It made appointing Hughes the risk-free option from their point of view.

Whether that motivated the decision, or if they genuinely thought after the brief ‘trial period’ at the end of the campaign he was clearly the best candidate and so there was no need to look elsewhere we will never be sure.

What we can be fairly certain of is that it was always going to be a very difficult job.

Hughes himself pointed out that this was a team that had only just avoided relegation from the Premier League. They weren’t suddenly going to be converted back into a club finishing sixth, seventh or eighth.

The quality of business done over the summer again looked dubious, and so with largely the same squad, totally devoid of confidence and belief and with the old problems still laid bare, it proved too much.

A fair analysis would have to conclude that Hughes hasn’t helped himself at times.

Spending most of the summer seemingly preparing to play five at the back only to ditch the plan less than halfway through the first game of the season wasn’t ideal, even if it was a learning curve in the heat of battle.

The rotation of players and formations, sticking by one or two or not recalling others for a game or two too many. None of this helped.

However, you ultimately end up back at the starting point.

It’s a manager trying to do his best with what he’s been given, and if what he’s been given just isn’t enough, whatever the reasons, then he will struggle.

That is three managers sacked in less than 18 months having been deemed not good enough.

The common denominators? They have had largely the same squad to deal with, and the people who directly or indirectly assembled it, and appointed them, have also been the ones to do the sacking.