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Billy Sharp Speaks Out On Cortese Influence On Team Selection
Wednesday, 19th Aug 2020 12:16

Billy Sharp has spoken out about the influence ex Saints Chairman Nicola Cortese had on his sudden departure from the club on loan after helping fire Saints to promotion only a few months earlier suggesting that Nigel Adkins was not in total control of team selection.

Billy Sharp was a popular figure at St Mary's after his arrival from Doncaster Rovers, Saints needed an attacking boost to push them over the line with both Reading and West Ham coming up fast on the rails, but after providing that boost with 9 goals in 11 starts plus another 4 off the bench he suddenly found himself being given the cold shoulder with barely a chance to prove his worth in the Premier League, 2 appearances from the bench totalling 18 minutes being his only game time in the Premier League.

Now he has spoken about why he was never given a chance with his words perhaps showing how the relationship between Saints Chairman Nicola Cortese and manager Nigel Adkins had broken down before the season had started with Cortese meddling in team selection.

Sharp has had this to say as he lifted the lid on his time at Saints and sudden departure:

“I am not sure he [Cortese] wanted me at the club in the first place," Sharp said, speaking to Talksport's Sam Matterface on the Up Front podcast.

"But Nigel Adkins said ‘look, if anything happens to Rickie Lambert, we haven’t really got anyone else, no disrespect to anyone there.’

“He wanted back up and he wanted to get me in, which he did."

“To the owner [sic -chairman Cortese], it was like it was a short time job, to help them get over the line and he then decided he wanted to get me out to bring in two other players. That didn’t sit well with me, and Rickie [Lambert] wasn’t really fully fit for the first game of the season, which was Man City away."

“I had worked so hard in pre-season and I got told I was starting on the Friday morning, only to then be told by the manager after we left the training ground that I now wasn’t starting and it wasn’t his decision, which wasn’t music to my ears and was disappointing to hear."

“I managed to come on and make my Premier League debut that day, but we lost the game 3-2 and I could see what was happening and I wasn’t prepared to sit there and not be involved, so I went on loan to Nottingham Forest.”

Sharp added that he didn't speak much to Cortese when he signed for Southampton or during his time at the club, but said that the decision for the game at Manchester City on the opening day of the 2012-13 season told him what he needed to know.

“It didn’t really bother me, but I think it was just the fact that everyone should be a level playing field and I realised it wasn’t,"

“When an owner tells a manager and a manager then tells me he thinks it is going to be better to go and play elsewhere because his hands are tied, I’ve never rang Nigel Adkins up and asked him about that time, but I know exactly it wasn’t his decision, because he took me to two other clubs after I had left Southampton."

“I believe it was [Cortese’s decision]. He was a big driver of who came into the club and that’s what happens at some clubs. It happened at Nottingham Forest and at Leeds as well."

So that is from the horse's mouth, personally I was baffled why Sharp should have been even denied a chance to show what he could do, of the two signings mentioned Jay Rodriguez would prove to be a shrewd piece of business whether that was the manager's or Cortese's choice, but Mayuka who was more the direct replacement for Sharp was dire and it was strange that we should have paid around £4 million for a striker who would start only 1 game for the club and another 15 off the bench, as Saints struggled for goals early on in that season, I thought Sharp would have been a good impact player and would have nicked us the odd goal or two in some games, Mayuka was just clueless.

At the time rumours were going around that Nigel Adkins was not in control of transfer policy that had led to a breakdown of relationship between him and Cortese during the summer of 2012, but it seems now that he was being told who he could and could not select for the team as well, ironically 2 years earlier the same rumours had been rife that Alan Pardew had been sacked after winning at Bristol Rovers but refusing to start Guly Du Prado a signing that had been made against his wishes.

Photo: Action Images

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WestSussexSaint added 12:39 - Aug 19
I think this just backs up the common view that Cortese wanted to control every aspect of the club and was answerable to no-one. That was clear when Kat took more of an interest and put a more robust governance structure in place.

The other victim of this piece is Nigel Adkins who deserved his chance to manage a PL team but while the results of his short time in charge were not great it was clear from Sharps comments that he wasn’t solely responsible for that.

schatfield added 12:58 - Aug 19
always liked Billy Sharp (still do for Sheffield) and such a shame how he was handled here. Side note, I love this top he is wearing in the photo above, good one that year.

halftimeorange added 13:29 - Aug 19
I completely agree. Not playing Billy Sharp was a golden opportunity missed when you think of some of the ineffective forwards we have soldiered on with. He was a real poacher, rather like Charlie Austin, and probably would have given a greater return.

redandwhitedee added 15:49 - Aug 19
I was at the Evian pre-season friendly that summer and recall Sharp was trying to fight everyone. He did not look happy even at that stage. No great loss.
On your final point, Pardew was sacked due to his side’s truly abject performances in the 1st two games (both at home) 0-1 Plymouth and 1-1 Leyton orient. Plus the terrible pre-season performances which preceded those games.

davepid added 19:19 - Aug 19
A rare insight into a world I guess we would all want to know more about. Cortese left the club in early Jan 14 . Sharp was still on our books and actually back at st Mary’s between his Reading and Doncaster Loans. Perhaps he did try and persuade Koeman to give him another go or perhaps his moment had passed. His position was weak given his poor tally of goals for Forest , 10 out of 40 the season before) and Reading ( 1goal in three months) and that he was competing with Pelle, Long, Rodrizus even Gallagher for a starting position. Like others ,I like Sharp ( he has the attributes admired by supporters) and it’s good he’s still in the Premier.

SanMarco added 18:01 - Aug 20
"The past is a foreign country and Cortese did things differently there" to paraphrase a famous first line.

It would be more surprising to find out that NC wasn't interfering!!

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