Nathan Jones’ approval rating as Southampton manager has barely risen above zero since his arrival on the south coast from Luton Town in November. Greeted with a discernible wave of indifference by Saints supporters following his appointment, the sight of almost 10,000 empty seats at St Mary’s for an EFL Cup quarter-final against Manchester City was a gauge of the current mood around the club.
Jones has lost his first four Premier League games in charge and when Southampton went a goal behind in the FA Cup third round tie at Crystal Palace at the weekend, the visiting support questioned the validity of his methods and quality of football in what can be politely described as graphic and robust terms.
Southampton went on to win, of course, but it is a sign of the instant demands for success heaped on a new manager that someone who only took over in November was regarded by some as a serious candidate for the sack in early January.
And so it was, with football’s glorious capacity for surprise, that Jones and Southampton turned form and logic on its head in the EFL Cup quarter-finals as the Premier League’s bottom club thoroughly deserved to unseat the reigning champions and competition favourites by a 2-0 margin.