Southampton’s executive chairman Nicola Cortese resigned his position on Wednesday and it could have big ramifications on the south coast club.
The Swiss-Italian banker is believed to have quit due to a power struggle with Saints owner Katarina Liebherr.
Cortese was instrumental in Liebherr buying the club and as a result instrumental in the clubs rise from administration and League One to Premier League security.
Cortese was a respected figure within the club and his resignation could affect the Saints in a big way.
Cortese’s resignation has led to question marks over the future of the Saints Argentinian boss Mauricio Pochettino, who Cortese appointed in the first place. The former-Espanyol boss has stated his loyalty to Cortese on a number of occasions.
Cortese was linked with leaving his position in May and Pochettino had this to say on the issue then:
“I would not understand staying in this role if Nicola was not here. I have great respect as well for Southampton, the club and the supporters, but Nicola has been the one that has placed his trust and faith in me.
“We are on the same wavelength about the club and the future of the club so it really would not make any sense if I was at this club and he was not.”
According to Sky Sports, Pochettino had a meeting with Liebherr on Wednesday, but it is still not certain whether the Argentinian will remain in charge of the club or not. Pochettino is expected to talk about his future in his press conference prior to the Saints visit to Sunderland.
Pochettino has transformed Southampton’s style of play since his arrival in January 2013. The team now play a far attractive brand of passing football and press high up the field, a tactic made famous by Barcelona under Pep Guardiola.
With the change of style came a change in how the Saints were seen by opposition. They are no longer considered a team that will struggle to survive in the top-flight, as they first were when promoted under Nigel Adkins.
Teams now actually think of Southampton as a very tough opponent and a team that can threaten them home and away. That change of image is all down to Pochettino and the way he sets his teams up.
Nigel Adkins did a great job getting the Saints back up into the Premier League, but Pochettino has taken them onto another level and improved their playing style. Without Pochettino the Saints may have been relegated, or could still be struggling at the wrong end of the table.
There now seems a possibility that Pochettino may even leave the club by the end of the weekend, which is terrible news for Saints fans considering how far the team have come since his arrival.
It is believed that Katarina Liebherr is looking to recoup some of the money invested in the club by her father the late Markus Liebherr. That means the Saints could sell off some of their star players before the month is out.
West Ham are interested in signing striker Rickie Lambert, in a deal that is mooted to be worth £7million. Talented young English left-back Luke Shaw has been tracked by a number of the country’s top clubs including Chelsea and Manchester United.
Newly-capped England international midfielder Adam Lallana is another player that has attracted attention from elsewhere in recent months and he could also be a target for the vultures circling the Saints.
Southampton looked to have been building a team and club for the future, but Cortese’s exit seems to have set in motion what could be a disastrous chain of events for the club. I really do hope that Southampton avoid a fire sale, because they have a decent squad and are in an ideal position to move forward in the next few years.
Mauricio Pochettino’s press conference at 3PM today may reveal a lot more than we already know. For Saints sake I really hope that the Argentinian decides to stay with the club and is able to keep moving the team forward.
Southampton have gone from everything being normal, to the prospect of their manager and star players leaving in less than 24 hours, that’s modern day football for you though, crazy stuff.
Could Cortese’s exit have a major effect on Southampton?