Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton future in doubt with chairman Nicola Cortese about to leave
Nicola Cortese is on the brink of leaving his position as Southampton chairman, a development that also places the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino in serious doubt.
Pochettino was appointed exactly a year ago but, when doubts first emerged about Cortese’s future last May, he stressed that his involvement at Southampton was dependent on his chairman remaining at the club.
Cortese seriously considered leaving last year due to a lack of progress on talks with owner Katharina Liebherr over both his contract and the future direction of Southampton. Now he has told the club he wants to leave.
Eventually there was a statement which said the matter was “resolved” following discussions about the club’s long-term strategy. It is understood, however, that the relationship between Cortese and Katharina Liebherr remains distant and that representatives of the two parties were in talks yesterday about a severance package.
Since the death of Markus Liebherr in 2010, there has always been only limited communication between Cortese and Liebherr’s daughter, Katharina, who became the club’s owner.
Cortese wanted renewed backing from the Liebherr family for his strategy going forward and he became frustrated at the lack of clarity on the future.
Pochettino then closely aligned his future with Cortese, whose work at Southampton has been noted by clubs in Europe. Asked if he would be staying if Cortese left, Pochettino said: “Of course not, because the person that has put his faith in me in this club and as a manager is Nicola Cortese.
"Nicola Cortese has basically been the reality at Southampton for the past four years. Me on a personal sense, I would not understand a Southampton without Nicola being here.
"When I first arrived here, nobody knew who Mauricio Pochettino was. Nicola put his faith in me and knew me from way, way back.
"When I got to know his project, we were basically on the same wavelength as to what we wanted for Southampton in the future. Basically, my future in Southampton has to be with Nicola.”
Katharina Liebherr’s long-term plans for the club are uncertain and there is a theory that the family could be open to offers for Southampton now that their Premier League status is already almost secure for at least another year. Having paid just £14 million to buy Southampton in 2009, they could expect to sell at a huge profit. Fulham was sold earlier this season for around £150 million.
Against that, the Liebherr family has shown considerable commitment by converting £33 million in loans to shares since Markus Liebherr’s death.
They have also sanctioned a major ongoing investment in the club’s training facilities. Cortese became chairman in 2009 when Southampton had just come out of administration and begun the season in League One on minus 10 points.