Nathan Jones admits he would have taken a different approach were he to have had his time again at Southampton, on the day the club were relegated from the Premier League.
After a sorry season that has seen them occupy one of the relegation spots since November 5, their 12th home defeat of the season against Fulham meant they will be playing in the second tier next season.
Back in February, the south coast club parted company with Jones just three months into his first managerial position at a Premier League club.
The former Luton boss took over from Ralph Hasenhuttl in November, shortly before the league paused for the Qatar World Cup.
Jones had guided Saints to the Carabao Cup semi-finals and the FA Cup fifth round, but lost seven of his eight Premier League games in charge, with his sole victory coming against Everton in January.
Speaking to Sky Sports on the same day Southampton’s relegation to the Sky Bet Championship was confirmed, Jones said: “I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, as I always do. I wanted to go there and be successful. That wasn’t the case, and if you’re not successful it’s important that you learn.
“I’ve reflected on my time and looked at things I would’ve done differently. It’s one of those things and it’s been a big learning curve for me.”
Jones left Southampton bottom of the table, with 15 points from 22 games, but his replacement Ruben Selles was unable to arrest the slide despite winning two of his opening three games.
The defeat to Fulham was Saints’ seventh in eight games, extending their winless run to 11 matches which has ultimately ended with a first top-flight relegation since 2005.
When asked if he feels he would’ve kept Southampton up, the 49-year-old remarked: “Whatever I answer, I feel that’s a bit of a loaded question.
“All I know is that had I got the results, I would’ve kept improving the team because of the work we do. I believe in the work we do but it is difficult to say as the last thing I want is another headline.”
What would Jones have done differently?
“There are a lot of things – I wouldn’t want to go into them now, but certainly things when I first arrived. It’s a wonderful club and I felt I had the trust of the owners.
“I just wish I could’ve bought myself a bit more time in order to implement what I wanted to and what they wanted me to implement.
Jones took full responsibility for the club’s dire performances in the Premier League, days after he said he had not put his stamp on the team and pandered to his players.
Following a 3-0 loss at Brentford, Jones said in a post-match interview that he had compromised on his style of management due to fan pressure, which did little to improve his popularity among the Southampton faithful.
So was the step-up to the Premier League different to what he thought it would be?
“I went in there with my eyes wide open,” Jones continued. “The Championship is a really strong, really competitive, really tactical league.
“You step up, and the Premier League is different. It is very tactical too and there’s quality so I wouldn’t say in that regard it’s any different.
“Sometimes, you take a little bit of time to adapt but while there are certain things I would’ve done differently, I enjoyed my time.”
After the Brentford defeat, Jones had claimed he was “statistically” one of Europe’s best managers when he was at Luton Town but that he may have got carried away while dealing with Premier League players.
The Welshman was always ready to face the music – right up until his dismissal – and his honesty may have been part of his undoing.
Jones admitted regretting his words after the defeat at the Gtech Community Stadium, however, says he would not change his honest approach.
“I think you have to be authentic,” he said. “As a person and as a manager – that is me. I think there was perhaps only one interview that was ill-timed.
“Definitely what I said was misconstrued. I have always accepted responsibility and have never hung a player out to dry. But I’ve learned from that.
“I needed my team to be better [against Brentford] and I didn’t see my team on that day. I’m now looking forward to the next challenge.”