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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Sturrock leaves Saints
Paul Sturrock
When the pressure of management is compounded by a stream of negative media coverage, the position becomes untenable
Saints chairman Rupert Lowe on Sturrock's departure
Southampton manager Paul Sturrock has left the club by mutual agreement and been replaced by Steve Wigley.

Sturrock, who has been in charge for five-and-a-half months, exits St Mary's after just 13 games in charge.

Wigley, who was caretaker manager before Sturrock took over following Gordon Strachan's exit, has been appointed as Saints' new head coach.

Southampton said the new structure of the club had yet to be finalised but confirmed Wigley was the new boss.

"I'm not a caretaker. I have been installed as head coach, and it's my responsibility to take this club forward from here on in," Wigley said.

But the door is open for chairman Rupert Lowe to possibly appoint a technical director above Wigley, with Gerard Houllier having been heavily linked with the club.

Wigley will also need to appoint a new backroom team, with Sturrock's right-hand man Kevin Summerfield, who followed the old boss from Plymouth, also leaving the club.

First team coach Dennis Rofe does seem to be staying but there could be room in the new set-up for ex-Nottingham Forest manager Paul Hart, a known friend of Wigley.

The appointment of 42-year-old Wigley as the new coach will be welcomed in the dressing room, where the long-term coach is a firm favourite among the players.

1993-1998: St Johnstone
1998-2000: Dundee Utd
2000-2004: Plymouth
Mar 2004-Aug 2004: Southampton

He was Academy boss until Monday when Sturrock left the club and he was immediately thrown into the job by chairman Rupert Lowe.

Reports last week had speculated that Sturrock had just two more games to prove his worth at St Mary's after his side's opening day defeat at Aston Villa.

The Saints beat Blackburn 3-2 on Saturday but the win was not enough to keep him in his job.

Sturrock had arrived at the club with a burgeoning reputation after taking Plymouth from Division Three to the top of Division Two in three-and-a-half years.

But after winning three of his first four games in charge of the Saints, only two victories in nine games have followed.

In a statement, Saints chairman Rupert Lowe blamed negative press reports about Sturrock's reign for his departure.

Lowe said: "Management in the Premier League is highly pressured.

"When this pressure is compounded by a constant stream of negative and unfair media coverage, which has taken on a life of its own recently, the position becomes untenable.

"Those people responsible for perpetrating this unsatisfactory situation, often in return for financial reward, should take a long hard look at themselves."

It is not the first time that Lowe has acted quickly to change a managerial appointment.

In the summer of 2001 he appointed Saints coach Stuart Gray as boss following Hoddle's departure to Spurs. Gray had ended the previous season as caretaker manager.

Obviously we don't know all the details but on the face of it it's ludicrous
League Managers' Association vice-chairman Frank Clark

But by October, Gray had gone, to be replaced by Gordon Strachan.

Whoever Lowe chooses to succeed Sturrock will become the club's ninth manager in the past nine years.

And the League Managers' Association (LMA) reacted with surprise at the developments within the south coast club.

"Our initial reaction is astonishment really," said LMA vice-chairman Frank Clark.

"It is so disappointing that a manager can lose his job just two games into the season.

"I was listening to a pundit on the television before the Blackburn game and he said Sturrock had just one more match to save his job, which I found hard to believe.

"Winning one out of two isn't a bad start to the season so I'm astounded at what has happened.

"Obviously we don't know all the details but on the face of it it's ludicrous."

Interview: Southampton defender Graeme Le Saux

Wigley in from the wings
24 Aug 04  |  Southampton

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