Jesse Marsch interviewed for manager’s job as Southampton look to halt decline
Southampton have interviewed Jesse Marsch, the former Leeds United manager, as they ramp up their search for a third appointment of the season.
Marsch was dismissed by struggling Leeds last week and is under consideration for a swift return to the technical area following talks with the Southampton board on Monday.
The American guided Leeds to Premier League survival on the final day of last season and has admirers within Sport Republic, who are the owners and majority shareholders at St Mary’s Stadium.
Southampton have sacked Ralph Hasenhüttl and Nathan Jones this season and are determined to make an appointment who gives them a fighting chance of staying in the top division.
Jones’s stormy tenure was ended on Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after the home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers which leaves the club bottom of the table. Jones managed Southampton for just nine Premier League games.
Sellés, who has been the ‘first-team lead coach’ since last June, has been appointed on an interim basis for the second time this season and the expectation inside the club is that his reign will be rather longer than the three days back in November after Hasenhüttl departed.
Southampton had already lined Jones up at that point and, while there has been no such detailed process this time, they have already been assessing a limited pool of available options.
There had been an appreciation that the club’s dire position could limit the club's options and confidence that the 39-year-old Sellés, who has been tipped for management, can perform well in the interim.
He is extremely well regarded internally and one scenario being mooted would be to also appoint a coach to work alongside him who does have extensive managerial experience. That would be a short-term gamble – but possibly a preferable long-term option – that must be weighed up against the more instant potential impact of a more established manager like Marsch, who has also managed RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzberg following his time at Major League Soccer.
The immediate priority following a fourth straight home league defeat under Jones was simply to make the change and ease the pressure that was consuming the club.
It had reached a point whereby just about every social media posting that Southampton made would be followed by numerous ‘Jones Out’ messages and the club’s own fans were chanting for him to be sacked during matches. Southampton concluded that the toxic atmosphere, as well as results, had made his position untenable after they were beaten 2-1 by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday despite taking the lead and their opponents going down to 10 men.
What is the seventh-shortest managerial tenure in Premier League history will also be highly costly following the decision in November to pay around £4 million in compensation to take Jones from Luton Town and now terminate his contract with more than three years remaining.
Saturday’s defeat has left Southampton cut adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table on just 15 points, although some grains of comfort have been taken from the positive impact of new signings Carlos Alcaraz and Kamaldeen Sulemana.
Jones made a quick exit at the end of Saturday’s match amid an ugly barrage of criticism that even included one young fan attempting to carry a giant-sized P45 to Jones before being ushered away by stewards.
A three-line Southampton statement confirmed Jones’ departure, as well as first-team coaches Chris Cohen and Alan Sheehan.
An email was also distributed on Sunday morning to staff which said that the decision had been made in the “best interests” of the club and urged everyone to “all pull together”.
There is now considerable pressure on the club’s leadership team, notably Rasmus Ankersen, the chief executive of Sport Republic, who led the heavily data-influenced appointment of Jones after he had taken Luton Town to the Championship play-offs last season on a limited budget.
Southampton next face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and are acutely conscious that the dreadful league form under Jones has coincided with what, in theory, should have been winnable fixtures. The four home defeats were against Brighton, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa as well as Wolves and contributed to Southampton’s worst run of home form this century. They were also beaten away at Liverpool, Fulham and Brentford during Jones’s 95-day tenure.