|Sacked: Nigel Adkins (premierleague.com)|
The word 'Unfair' probably doesn’t do the treatment of now former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins justice following his shocking dismissal yesterday.
Nicola Cortese, the club owner, will have some explaining to do to the Saints fans who are rightly up-in-arms over the decision, with club legend Matt Le Tissier calling the club a “laughing stock” following widespread shock and condemnation of the sacking throughout English football.
Adkins, 47, guided Southampton to back-to-back promotions and despite a very tricky start their Premier League return, had seemingly steadied the ship at St Mary’s with an impressive run of form which included the 2-2 comeback away at Chelsea. However this still was not enough it seems to spare him from the wielding of Nicola Cortese’s axe.
It seems hard to believe that a man who has done so much for a club, and was still doing a good job in the Premier League, could possibly be relieved of his duties. Cortese and the Southampton board claim it was a decision made with the club’s ambitions in mind, yet these ambitions were and have been shared by Adkins himself, something he has continually emphasised during his reign, and this is most profoundly demonstrated by his side’s rise from the Third Tier to the very top.
|Puncheon celebrates his equaliser Vs Chelsea, Adkins' last game: (football365.com)|
Nevertheless, Cortese backed his well-liked manager and had appeared to have been rewarded. As Adkins himself put it, Southampton had begun to “mature” into a Premier League side, with the Saints having only lost only two games of their last twelve matches. Yet despite this impressive run of form, which has seen newly promoted side move three points clear of the drop zone, Adkins still found himself unemployed come yesterday morning.
This latest sacking reflects a growing worrying trend in English football; of owners looking to find quick-fix solutions to find instant success. Recent examples include Sean O’Driscoll at Nottingham Forest, whose owner’s sacked him on the basis of changed ambitions for immediate promotion. Chelsea are the most infamous example, with Roberto Di Matteo finding himself unemployed despite winning his owner Roman Abramovich’s ‘Holy Grail’; the Champions League. It is very rare that a change brings immediate success. Manager’s need time, but it seems time is on the verge of extinction at some clubs.
This of course is not the first time Cortese has sacked his manager sparking popular discontent. Alan Pardew was sacked two years ago despite winning the Football League Trophy, much to the disapproval of the supporters. Nevertheless, the club appointed Adkins and found themselves in the Premier League two years later.
It may have worked once for Cortese, but can it work again? On the face of it, the sacking appears short sighted. Mauricio Pochettino has no experience of English football. He can’t speak English. He arrives having formerly managed Barcelona based side Espanyol, with no major achievements to date.
Nevertheless, Pochettino and Southampton could be a perfect match. Pochettino has enjoyed a growing reputation in European football, and has been looked at by many European clubs following his decision to leave debt-ridden Espanyol in November. He is renowned for playing fast, pressing, possession football, suiting the desired style of the Saint’s owner.He successfully guided Espanyol to safety and kept them in La Liga despite excessive debts and as a result having to sell star names such as Jose Callejon to Real Madrid. More notably, he is acknowledged as being a manager who tries to develop home grown talent. At Espanyol, he has been known to have brought though twenty youngsters into the First Team during his three year tenure. A perfect fit? Potentially.
|New manager Pochettino: (huffingtonpost.co.uk)|
Pochettino however cannot be blamed for the board’s decision. He inherits a club with a good team and an outstanding youth setup, a club which is more than capable of staying up. The new manager certainly has the potential to succeed at Southampton, whether adapts quickly and gets the players and even trickier fans on side is another question.
Since the sacking the bookmakers have slashed the odds on Southampton staying up, which tells you what the footballing public think of events on the South Coast. Southampton host Everton on Monday night, a chance for us all to see what the Saints faithful think of the dismissal. I think it safe to say that Nicola Cortese won’t have an easy night.