But the move proved to be ill-fated, Jones made it a whopping three months (Including a month’s worth of world cup action) before results became too much for him and the board to defend. As short as that journey together was however, it became one of the most bizarre managerial stints in recent Premier League history. Comical quotes, strange claims and none of the performances that might convince the board to tolerate such antics, Jones was doomed from the get go.
Jones’ tenure began with a stutter, losing 3-1 at the hands of Liverpool, before a league loss of identical scoreline away to Brighton after the World Cup. In fact, fans of the club would have to wait until the middle of January for their first league win under Jones, a 2-1 win away against fellow relegation candidates Everton. But in the true fashion of this chaotic period, their cup form soared, Jones overseeing wins against Lincoln, Crystal Palace, Blackpool, and most impressively Manchester City in the EFL Cup, a competition traditionally dominated by the blues. He couldn’t squeeze them through to the EFL final however, suffering defeat over two legs against a strong Newcastle United side.
The League form certainly didn’t follow, consistent one goal defeats giving way to a 3-0 dismantling at the hands of Brentford and placing Jones’ job under immense scrutiny going into the home game against a struggling Wolves side. Jones’ stranger tendencies emerged in the build up, with a press conference rant about how he “could’ve stayed in a mining community and been a PE teacher and had a nice life married a nice welsh girl.” To the delight of the press in attendance he continued on, “I wanna test myself, and that’s nothing against Welsh women by the way.” Jones’ consistent ability to pat himself on the back despite poor performances (earlier in the season referring to himself as one of the top coaches in europe through his metrics at Luton Town) alienated fans who saw their club fighting to stay in the division, and wanted to see his credentials on the pitch, not the back page.
If all eyes weren’t on the game before the conference they certainly were now, so they were probably surprised when Jones’ side took the lead and gained a man advantage within the first half an hour. This before reality came crashing down, a comical own goal and an 87th minute winner from the 10 men of Wolves meaning Saints fans left empty handed. After the game Jones demonstrated his ability to blame everything but himself once more, stating the red card was “To our detriment because it made it a free hit for them then… in terms of stuff.” It was understandable that his way with words deserted him here as his mind was probably elsewhere, he was after all sacked the very next day.
Jones’ stint as manager of Southampton can arguably be best demonstrated with one fact. As of his sacking, 11 managers had won at least 1 point at Southampton’s home ground St Mary’s this season. Jones was not one of them.