Ralph Krueger came in for plenty of criticism during his time as Saints chairman but delivered on the job he was installed for in some style.

The former ice hockey man was sometimes derided as a figure of fun with his accent and phraseology being more of the tub thumping North American motivational speaker than the traditional English football chairman.

But that belied the truth of Krueger who was a chairman with much more depth than his public persona ever portrayed.

He always sold himself as the ‘representative of ownership’ at Saints, a phrase he would bring out in almost every interview.

What he meant by that was that his job was not to be at St Mary’s on a day-to-day basis micro-managing everything from the first team down to the stationery suppliers.

Instead, he was in place to deal with the distant and rich foreign owners of the club, to help them set direction, and then impart that general philosophy onto the departmental leaders at St Mary’s to enact in the minutiae of everyday life.

It largely worked.

Krueger’s chief aim as representative of ownership was surely to make the club a profitable business and, given the way both Katharina Liebherr and Gao Jisheng have wanted things, a self-sustaining one that requires no investment from them.

Krueger admitted that he was concerned about Saints when he came into St Mary’s in February 2014 after the departure of Nicola Cortese.

He said in interviews that he felt his first job was to set a different course of direction for the club, and to then build it further with Cortese having steered them from League One to the Premier League.

Katharina Liebherr surely appreciated that Krueger did a quite amazing job. After all, the ownership which he first represented sold 80 per cent of their stake for £210m, an eye watering profit. Therefore, he did his job in spectacular fashion.

He did that too for Gao Jisheng, smoothing the way for his takeover and managing to fight against the odds to get the Premier League to overturn its original decision to block the deal. Again, it was job done.

During his time at the club the accounts have generally been positive, and again delivered on the objectives of the ownership.

So why take the decision to remove Krueger from office?

It is certainly an interesting move which can only be driven from the powerbase of Gao Jisheng.

From the club’s statement, perhaps the most notable thing is that the 34 words attributed to Gao are the very first we have heard from him since he bought into Saints.

The very fact he has finally said something, even if it tells us absolutely nothing, begins to lean towards the fact he is getting more involved.

After all, it was he that initially accepted Krueger’s position that the blame for failure on the football side of the club – after Krueger helped Saints to glory under Ronald Koeman they faltered with Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes all being sacked in little over a year and a string of expensive transfer flops and ill-judged contract extensions – was elsewhere. Les Reed and Martin Hunter paid the price for that.

Maybe Gao is not merely content with paying such a vast sum of money for hands-off continuity.

We now must wait to see what happens in the summer.

The chances are that this is a minor switch and more in the cultural sense than a massive change of direction.

One thing that may have counted against Krueger was the fact he wasn’t actually at St Mary’s very much. Of course, he was in constant contact, but many people at the club would tell you he seemed to be away as often he was there.

That was always part of the deal, but maybe Gao thinks Saints would benefit from a more hands-on person at the top of the club.

Martin Semmens, the remaining of the two vice-chairmen after Reed’s departure, takes over on a temporary basis, but there is a strong chance he may land the leadership role, whatever form that takes, in the summer.

There is much for Gao to decide upon now.

Krueger was already leading his ‘satellite group’ to decide on the long-term structure of the footballing side of the club – do Saints need a director of football? If not, what do they need? How many roles? What are they? And who?

Now those same questions apply to the very top of the club and whether there needs to be a chairman, or a chief executive, or something else, what that role or roles entail and who should fill them?

This will be Gao leading the way and stamping his mark on the club.

But he, and especially Liebherr, should be forever grateful for what Krueger did for them as, no matter what the verdict on his chairmanship from supporters, he delivered for them, as the ‘representative of ownership’, as he might say, big time.