THE surprise sacking of Chris Hughton reminded me how much football management has changed at the top level.

One comment in particular resonated with me. The writer sympathised with Hughton as he had a limited say on transfers. He quoted as an example a foreign player who was brought in for £17m but flopped.

Call me old fashioned but in my day I would never have let anyone tell me which player I had to sign or transfer because I could have got the sack if it didn’t work out. 

I have been impressed with Ralph Hasenhuttl so far and I hope he has more of a say on this summer’s ins and outs. 

The way he keeps an eye on the academy and the Under-23s certainly reminds me of my approach at the Dell, back in the day. 

His willingness to introduce six or seven youngsters to the first team in the short time he has been here is similar to the approach I took. 

They will all have the chance to show him what they can do when they get together again for pre-season training and friendly matches.

Having arrived in December when league games were played every few days I’m sure our manager is looking forward to the chance to start a season with his team and will already have a good idea how he wants to start the season. 

* IT was a delight to attend the Southampton Referees’ Association’s centenary celebrations.

The man in the middle is one of the most important figures in the game but too often does not get the respect he deserves.

Without him what would you do? 

I remember when we first moved to this area my wife Anne and I would often spend our Sunday mornings watching our two lads playing in the Tyro League for Sarisbury Sparks.

I might have been at Old Trafford the day before with a crowd of 70,000 there, but there was only one referee as there was the next morning when we were stood alongside a dozen or so parents the next morning in the rain.

Without a referee there was no game. Incidentally, it was my time watching Tyro League football that gave me the opportunity to sign youngsters including Dave Puckett, Ian Baird and Steve Moran. 

So reading the history of our local referees’ association brought memories of the speakers they have had over the years including Sir Stanley Rouse, the FA’s Bert Millichip and famous managers such as Joe Mercer. 

But what struck me most was discovering that the president for many years was a certain Mr George Reader, Saints’ chairman when I arrived and who will be forever famous for refereeing the 1950 World Cup final at the age of 54. So I was perhaps a little out of order when I spoke at the dinner by saying I thought I was one of the oldest in the room… till I realised some were there from the beginning! 

Seriously, well done to all referees like this who come out in all weathers to give youngsters the opportunity to play the game.