Saint to sinner: Nicola Cortese’s reign of terror

by Michael Wade

Monday, September 6th, 2010

The past weekend has been notable for more than just the international break and the emergence of another high-profile sex scandal. Keen eyes would have noticed domestic football has continued normal service.

This has been most notable at Southampton where the former Premier League team continue to lurch from one crisis to another. A degrading 2-1 home defeat to newly promoted Rochdale can now be added to a growing list of ailments troubling the club.

Saints fans had the 2010/11 season pencilled in for a promotion push and rightly so. A strong finish to last season saw Alan Pardew’s side narrowly miss out on the play-offs despite starting with a ten-point deduction. Add to this the guaranteed goals of Rickie Lambert and a blossoming academy and this was a club in a strong position to head back toward the Championship. Or so it seemed.

The new campaign couldn’t have started much worse. Two wins from four league games, exits from the Carling Cup and Johnstones Paint Trophy, a competition in which they are the holders, the bizarre departure of Pardew and the tragic death of benefactor Markus Liebherr has thrown the club into a state of disarray. In a normal season any of these events would be enough to cause a distraction but all of them combined are threatening to verge on the disastrous.

It was no secret that Pardew and Cortese didn’t get on. The club’s executive chairman has made a habit of making enemies since his and Liebherr’s arrival on the south coast, playing a kind of roles reversed version of Smithers and Burns. In this case the boss being the kind generous one and the assistant being the greedy power hungry goon.

It is no coincidence that he has been nicknamed ‘Genghis Khan’ by the local press and has made an enemy of The Sun, the U.K’s biggest newspaper, after he decided to ban their photographers in a dictatorial moment of pique.

Cortese’s lack of understanding of the football world he now inhabits is only further clarified by revelations in this weekend’s papers that he attempted to underline his position of superiority to the Southampton players and coaching staff by banning initials on all tracksuits and training wear claiming ‘I don’t have my initials on my suits so why should the players have them on theirs’.

Consequently the decision to dispose of Pardew and his coaching staff after a 4-0 away win with no replacement in place and a thick and fast run of games on the horizon has been made to look every bit as hollow and ill-thought-out as it first appeared.

Cortese’s next move is the intriguing one. Alan Shearer, Gianfranco Zola, and Paul Hart have been linked with the vacant managers position.  Hart has a history of fire-fighting at Crystal Palace and Portsmouth and would perhaps present the best short-term candidate. However a more ambitious option such as Shearer or Zola could represent a long-term vision for the club if they are willing to bend to the whims of a dictatorial regime.

Saints fans shouldn’t despair just yet of course, if Cortese really is as mad as he seems he will plump for the perma-tanned ego of Phil Brown. Now, there’s a thought.

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  • Sam Wheatley

    Talks with Phil Brown confirmed, there’s no need for a visit to the psychiatric ward to certify Cortese’s insanity. Southampton and Brown deserve each other though, with their haughty sense of misplaced self-worth.

  • notpaul hart

    Cortese will not be pushed into a rash appointment and he had no choice but to sack pardew and co , this guy is no fool and as long as he is a saint the club will remain in a healthy state unlike portsmouth fc who are going to find it very tough for a while

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