By Paul Jones
The number of Welsh managers in the Premier League has dropped by 50 per cent after Nathan Jones was sacked by Southampton.
Jones had been one of two Welshman in the top flight – alongside Steve Cooper at Nottingham Forest – but paid the price for a dreadful run of results.
The Saints made their call on Sunday morning as the club fight for Premier League survival, with Jesse Marsch favourite to replace him.
Jones’ departure came less than 24 hours after a 2-1 home defeat by 10-man Wolves left the Saints at the foot of the table four points adrift of safety.
A statement on the club’s official website said: “Southampton Football Club can confirm it has parted company with men’s first-team manager Nathan Jones.”
BREAKING: Southampton sack Nathan Jones after just 14 games and four months in charge. pic.twitter.com/awOlwz7urQ
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) February 12, 2023
Marsch has been installed as the 2/1 favourite to replace Jones with Sky Bet, with Steven Gerrard next in the betting at 4/1.
Both were relieved of Premier League managerial duties at Leeds and Aston Villa respectively this season and would enter a desperate situation at Southampton.
Former Luton boss Jones took over from Ralph Hasenhuttl in November, shortly before the league paused for the Qatar World Cup.
Jones had guided Saints to the Carabao Cup semi-finals and the FA Cup fifth round, but lost seven of his eight Premier League games in charge, with his sole victory coming against Everton in January.
Southampton lost 2-1 at home to Wolves on Saturday after being undone by a sensational second-half comeback from 10-man Wolves at a hostile St Mary’s, with Joao Gomes scoring a late decider to pile more pressure on Jones.
Jones went immediately down the tunnel at the full-time whistle, and later described the comeback from Wolves as a “sucker-punch”.
A Southampton fan was reportedly kicked out of St Mary’s by security on Saturday after waving a giant P45 cut-out at Jones during the dismal loss to Wolves.
Jones, 49, leaves Southampton bottom of the table, with 15 points from 22 games. They are currently four points adrift of safety.
But Southampton’s players insisted they shared the blame for their string of defeats.
Speaking on Saturday after this latest setback, Kamaldeen Sulemana – the Saints’ record £22m January window signing from Rennes – told his teammates it’s time to ‘fess up and take some responsibility.
The 20-year-old Ghanaian winger said: “Today, there’s no blame on the coach.
“The coach has nothing to do with the loss. We were on the pitch and take full responsibility for this.
“It’s just us on the pitch. We should do better. The coach puts 11 players on the pitch, what else can he do?
“I know the fans are hard on the coach but the players, we are the ones on the pitch. He’s on the outside giving us information.
“I don’t think it’s any coach’s fault in this game. It’s us playing the game. We created so many chances.”
Saints are four points from safety at the bottom of the table and some of his squad seem incapable of performing with the din of furious fans in their ears.
How else can you account for defender Jan Bednarek stumbling over the ball for an own goal that wiped out Carlos Alcaraz’s opener?
Or the anxiety freeze that turned Saints defenders into statues late on as Wolves new boy Joao Gomes scored a superbly-taken and deserved winner?
“It’s a difficult environment to arrive with the coaches who called you in, and then you see this,” admitted Sulemana about the toxic atmosphere that seeped around St. Mary’s for the final 20 minutes.
“We are the only solution, there’s no one else who can make a difference. It’s us,” added Sulemana.
“We are men and we take full responsibility.”