League Insider - Saints
Chris Burton takes a look at the talking points from the Football League in our new feature.
Last Updated: 13/09/10 10:48am
There is shooting yourself in the foot and there is shooting yourself in the foot Southampton style.
In fact, it is remarkable that the South Coast club are still standing given the amount of stray bullets to have ripped through their limbs over recent years.
They may be known as the Saints, but it is fair to say their behaviour of late has been anything but evangelical.
Time and again a club who graced the top flight for 27 straight years between 1978 and 2005, have sought to undermine themselves with acts of bemusing incompetence.
You would have thought that lessons would have been learnt after a period of depression saw Southampton slump into administration, but obviously not.
The years of Rupert Lowe and friends may have finally been consigned to the history books, but the ghosts of problems past continue to haunt St Mary's.
The club seems incapable of re-establishing the kind of consistency and structural reliability which once made them a top flight staple, and they continue to stumble dangerously close to the precipice of disaster.
Admittedly, the tragic passing of owner Markus Liebherr took everybody by surprise, with the popular German-Swiss billionaire having bailed Southampton out in one of their regularly occurring hours of need.
Such an event will inevitably have an adverse effect on the mood around the camp and will divert attention away from matters on the field at a time when distractions are the last thing Southampton need.
There are, however, reports which suggest that the most recent turn of events at the Southampton circus would have occurred regardless of what was going on in the real world.
The sacking of manager Alan Pardew just three games into the 2010/11 campaign came as something of a shock to those on the outside looking in, but raised few eyebrows inside the Saints camp.
It has been suggested that the former West Ham and Charlton coach had been hanging by a thread ever since he failed to guide Southampton into the League One play-offs last term.
This is a prime example of how the club have continuously sought to pull the rug from under their own feet by adopting a more than questionable approach to how things should be run.
Yes, by all means feel disappointed to have missed out on the promotion shake-up, but surely then is the time to take a step back and put things into perspective.
Having started the season 10 points down before a ball had even been kicked, and having ended it with a comfortable top-half finish and a memorable day out at Wembley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final, can the Saints hierarchy really have been that disappointed with that return?
It now appears as though there may have been other, less publicly apparent reasons for Pardew's departure, with murmurings of in-house bickering doing the rounds.
Agreed, this is exactly the sort of thing which follows a high-profile departure, as both sides attempt to defend their honour and deface that of their new-found enemies, but there does appear to be substance to these rumours.
It has been suggested that Pardew and Italian chairman Nicola Cortese did not see eye-to-eye and, when push came to shove, it was always going to be the man higher up the St Mary's food chain who came out on top.
Petty squabbling could prove detrimental in the long run, though, as the fall-out from Pardew's departure has been far from positive.
A replacement manager is yet to be identified, despite claims that numerous 'big names' have expressed an interest in the post, while a 2-0 defeat to newly-promoted Rochdale on home soil on Saturday suggests there is still plenty of maintenance work to be carried out on the field.
Should the ship fail to be steadied soon, Southampton could find themselves crashing and burning, with there only so long you can plug the leaks before the steady stream of water starts to drag your down.
All in all, this could be a make-or-break period for a club billed as pre-season title favourites back in August.
They look a long way short of that lofty billing at the moment, with Southampton Football Club more laughing stock than rising stock just now.
The latest round of Football League fixtures, bar the Championship which is enjoying an international break, was another productive one for promoted sides.
Of the six teams in action on Saturday who made a step up in class at the end of last season, all took at least a point.
Notts County and Oxford United enjoyed impressive 4-0 romps on home soil, while Dagenham & Redbridge recovered from a shaky start to the campaign to seal derby day success against East End neighbours Leyton Orient.
It appears as though momentum has carried over from last term, with Bournemouth and Rochdale also flying high in League One after making an instant adjustment to life at a higher level.
It remains to be seen whether the promoted sides, which also includes League debutants Stevenage, can maintain their forward motion, but the omens look good so far.
The final 100 per cent record in the top four tiers of English football went on Saturday as Torquay's flying start was brought to an abrupt halt.
Four wins in four had taken the Gulls to the top of League Two, but they came unstuck away at Southend in their latest outing.
Paul Buckle can, however, still be very proud of his side's achievements, given that Torquay were battling at the opposite end of the table last year.
Their achievements, coupled with the fact that no other side had been able to match them through four rounds of fixtures, just goes to show that the Football League remains as competitive as ever and promises to make for intriguing viewing over the coming months.