You’re Fired. Just Like That!
I’d like to claim some measure of responsibility for Les Reed leaving Southampton football club but I
don’t think I can but it is ironic that he leaves two days after I wrote one of my most well received blogs ever.
He had to go, he really did. It doesn’t matter how well anyone does in their first 5 1/2 years in any particular job - if you are underperforming/very poor for 2 1/2 successive years then you are really up against it. You could argue that it’s the players or its the managers or it’s any number of circumstances that have conspired but the fact of the matter is that Les Reed was the senior board member responsible for the football side of the club which is the core business. It is failing so he is failing and we have reached the point where under his stewardship, it was clearly not going to turn around. The main area that has been a disaster in the last two years is recruitment so I fully expect Ross Wilson to be following Les out of the door in the next few days and certainly before January. Also leaving, is Martin Hunter who was the technical director of the Academy. I guess he is being judged on the number of academy players who have made it through to first-team level. I touched on this in the other blog and there is an issue with them not being given the chance to develop in the Premier League but it has clearly been decided that the players coming through are not good enough and that is his responsibility. I don’t have too much to say about Martin Hunter only that his interviews were incredibly dull to listen to so you do wonder how he is going to inspire a young player. Below first-team level, none of our young players are in any of the England International development squads and at least one of the age group teams got relegated last year so it is not surprising that Hunter is on his way also.
It has to be said Les had a great five years as we got stronger and stronger until the point where he decided he couldn’t work with Ronald Koeman anymore and Ronald took the first opportunity to get away. As I’ve said many times before, the manager is the most important person at the club as he runs the first team and without the first team doing well, everything else falls apart. It’s also very dangerous to believe your own hype and think you have some sort of Midas touch.
Thinking the Claude Puel would be a suitable replacement for Koeman was Reed’s first big mistake and the next came in January 2017 when Jose Fonte flounced off to West Ham and Virgil Van Dijk got injured and we basically didn’t replace them. That cost us the League Cup final which we should’ve won and I then we had the bizarre Martin Caceras fiasco when we signed a player too late, who we didn’t want to play for financial reasons.
Where this leaves Mark Hughes is interesting. Hughes was a Les Reed appointment and they apparently go back a long way. Whilst I feel that it is unlikely that the press reports of him being sacked after the Watford game if we don’t win it have any truth in them, I can’t help but feel his position has been somewhat strengthened by Reed going and no one else coming in immediately. One thing is certain though that with Reed gone there is no one else left to blame so Hughes will be firmly in the firing line of Ralph Krueger and everyone else should result not improve. That’s a bit harsh perhaps because he can only work with the players that he’s got but that’s the reality. Of course, whoever the new director of football turned out to be my want to get his own man in place as soon as possible and that really wouldn’t be a surprise unless Hughes starts pulling up trees.
In Hughes press conference he was of course asked about all of this and it worries me slightly that he hopes for more control in transfers. Firstly, I think we need to have a big clear out before we bring any more players and secondly, Hughes track record when he is given the cheque-book and the decision making is really not very good. However, he is now by default, the senior football person at the club so Ralph, for all his talk about taking time to find the right person, need to get his finger out and do it quickly.
What I am also interested in is who made the decisions on the football side? If Martin Hunter has been sacked last week, you would have said that it was a Les Reed decision. Who exactly is Les Reed’s boss? Did he still report to Krueger or does he report directly to the Gao family who we of course know nothing about and where exactly is Katarina 20% Liebherr in the mix?
If it was Krueger’s decision then I guess you don’t need a huge amount of football knowledge to look at the results of the first team, and the age group sides and decide that they are not good enough and make a decision based on that but bear in mind that Kruger knows very little about football. The complete lack of football knowledge in the upper echelons of the club makes me feel slightly worried about who we get in to replace Reed in particular but I don’t believe that sitting around and doing nothing because you are scared to do anything, is the right way to run a football club.
The King is dead, long live the Motivational Hockey Guy.