I've been working on Sport for ITV Meridian for around a decade and so have seen seven full time Southampton FC managers come and go. Now Rubén Sellés is in temporary charge and says he wants the job full time. Based on his opening press conference - it's a Yes from me!
Bear with me. I know you can't base everything on the first time a new manager speaks to the Press, but sometimes first impressions are lasting.
So let's look back over the 10 years.
Saints fans weren't impressed with Nigel Adkins getting the sack. He was the man who'd guided Southampton to a double promotion back to the Premier League. Also, who was this manager from Spain?
But Mauricio Pochettino was impressive right from that first press conference. Despite not speaking English he exuded a calm, confident presence. You could see why players would run through brick walls for him. He won over the journalists in that first press conference and the fans quickly followed.
It had been a very worrying summer for Saints fans. Out the door had gone manager Mauricio Pochettino along with players Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren. But in walked Ronald Koeman.
At his first Southampton FC press conference you couldn't helped but be impressed. Here was a man full of confidence. A dry sense of humour and a relaxed tone, but with an edge. As journalists we knew he'd been one of the best defenders ever with the Netherlands and Barcelona. Surely the players would feel the same? His team soon took on the style he showed in that opening press conference. Style and confidence and afraid no-one.
Claude Puel's first press conference showed just how different he was to Koeman. So quietly spoken journalists had to move to the first 2 rows of the press room to hear him. A thoughtful man who deliberated over his answers. He didn't show much personality in the conference and certainly little humour, though people said he was different away from the press. The showbiz of Koeman had gone. Puel's Saints team eventually reflected his initial press conference - conservative, not hugely entertaining and not particularly inspiring.
Southampton were looking for some extra panache after the dour football served up by Claude Puel. But Mauricio Pellegrino's first press conference left more questions than answers. He was very excited to get the job. At the time I worried if he was a little too excited! Was this job too big for him? He lacked the charisma of a Koeman and the utter self-belief too. The club had clearly been looking for the next Pochettino and thought this fellow Argentine was the man. At this press conference he promised the team would return to the swashbuckling Saints of old. But the goals never arrived and he was soon on his way out.
Saints needed someone the fans could believe in. A steady hand who'd fight to keep the team in the Premier League. The initial press conference was a success. Hughes talked about his time as a Saints player and emphasised his fighting spirit on the pitch. The team were in a relegation fight and Hughes spoke well. He achieved his initial aim with a crucial win at Swansea, but later it became obvious tactical nous was needed alongside the fighting qualities for long term success.
One of the most impressive press conferences. A great confidence, perhaps borne from guiding RB Leipzig to 2nd place in the Bundesliga? Also, with excellent humour. His best quote "I know there are no guarantees of winning and the only thing we have is to work on chances. If you want guarantees buy a washing machine." Ralph Hasenhuttl also talked about the technical side of the game, way more than any other manager in an initial press conference. He went on to manage Saints for 4 years. The longest serving boss for 30 years.
The strangest first press conference I've encountered. Out of nowhere Nathan Jones said "The fact that a skinny, rat-faced Welsh boy is managing in the Premier League, that’s pretty much of a good story anyway." Jones was definitely excited about getting his chance, but there was a feeling that he didn't quite believe himself that he was up to the challenge. He was sacked 3 months later.
Rubén Sellés shook the hand of every journalist at the press conference. A charming, friendly chap - you could see why he's popular with the players. He also spoken in depth about the technical side of the game, reminiscent of Ralph Hasenhuttl's opening conference. I returned to the office telling everyone how impressed I was with him. He's since won his opening match (at Chelsea), we wait to see if my first impression will stand the test of time.