Goodbye To Nathan Jones, The Premier League’s Least Normal Man
12:53 PM EST on February 12, 2023
A bottom-of-the-table Premier League team firing its manager in the middle of the season is not something that is usually worth remarking on, as it happens multiple times every year. We must make an exception, however, in the case of Southampton's parting with Nathan Jones, one of the biggest weirdos to ever stand on a Premier League sideline.
Jones got the sack just a few hours after losing 2-1 to Wolves on Saturday. The Saints led 1-0 after 24 minutes and enjoyed a man advantage for the majority of the game after Mario Lemina was sent off in the 27th minute. Blowing a lead against a 10-man squad was the perfect way for Jones to cap his brief and humiliating tenure as Southampton's manager. Jones was appointed on Nov. 10 and tasked with turning around a team that was already spiraling towards relegation. He was in charge for just eight Premier League games, winning one and losing seven, before being fired this morning.
Following the Wolves loss, Jones told reporters that having one extra man on the field for more than an hour was actually bad for his team. "For me the 10 men was a detriment," he said, "because it made it a free hit for them and added more pressure on us." This may strike you as a wild thing for a manager to say, but it's perfectly in line with just about everything else Jones has said to the press over the last few weeks. This is a man who not only failed miserably at his job, but managed to produce one of the most robust catalogs of delusional, defensive, and puzzling quotes in managerial history. I ask you now to join me in celebrating some of his greatest hits. Please remember that Jones was saying all of these things while getting his ass kicked almost every single week.
On his time managing Championship side Luton Town, which he left to take the Southampton job:
We were a real aggressive, front-footed side. Statistically, there weren't many better than me around Europe in terms of aggression, clean sheets, defending your box, balls in the box, xG, all those things. We were pound-for-pound the best, because we were spending next to nothing and producing so much.
On drawing the ire of Southampton fans after substituting Romeo Lavia during a 3-0 loss to Brentford:
Was Romeo Lavia running the football game? Was he out-battling, out-dominating their team? If he was, they were watching a different game than me.
On whether he's ever hung a player out to dry:
At no time in my career have I hung a player out to dry, in my 350, 380 games in charge. Not once.
On why he failed to implement his preferred playing style:
I've compromised in terms of certain principles because of one, personnel, but two, you know, the way that people want to play and so on. I've compromised because fans, and so on. [...] Because at the end of the day there's certain people in the village, players in the building that we have to work with.
On dealing with criticism:
I'm a religious man, I believe in God. God gives me strength. I haven't got here by a silver spoon or by a fly-by-night. I've had to work hard to get here.
On how he felt following a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the EFL Cup:
Bear in mind I’ve only just been in the job, three Premier League games. Yeah, we had the Liverpool game but I’d one day to prepare. I’m not David Blaine, you know what I mean? I understand people’s frustrations but we’re building. The cliche is Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a wonderful Southampton side, but we are on the way. We need time to change the direction, the momentum. It’s tough. Sometimes you have to take a little of the proverbial, and I’ve had to do that, but I’m clear, I’m strong. A born-again Christian, so God’s will is right there for me and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
On seeking out challenges:
I could have stayed in a mining community and been a P.E. teacher and had a nice life. Married a nice Welsh girl and all those things. Beautiful. I want to test myself.
On his days as a player:
I knew I weren't brilliant as a player, but I was the fittest human being in history.
On facing challenges:
I'll be dead soon. I'll be dead one day, and I'll look back on these days and think, How did you stand up to them? How did you come through them? Did they build your character? Did you wilt? Did you go backwards, or did you face them full on?
I guess it's true what they say: God gives his toughest battles to his most unqualified young British managers.