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Southampton’s sacking of Adkins is a reminder of top flight’s fickle nature
Nigel Adkins sacking is brutal reminder that only a smattering of Premier League jobs are secure, writes Christian Crowther-Smith
Nigel Adkins should have been spending this weekend preparing his Southampton squad for another vital Premier League home game against Everton on Monday night.
Instead, he will be gathering his belongings at the club which he guided from the doldrums of third-tier football, right up to their current position of 15th in England’s top flight.
To add insult to injury, Adkins had just overseen a memorable comeback to earn his side a crucial point at the home of the European champions Chelsea, less than 48 hours before the announcement of his axing.
The context of a 5-1 pummelling in the FA Cup by the same opposition a little over a week previously, helps put the gravity of that achievement into perspective.
What is more, the draw at Stamford Bridge is just one of an excellent run of results which has witnessed the Saints lose only two of their last 11 Premier League games, beating Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle and Reading in the process.
Adkins himself would probably be the first to admit that it took him and the players a bit of time to settle into life back in the Premier League and for a while, when Saints were bottom and letting in goals for fun, it looked like he may well be close to losing his job.
And at that time, back in October, no-one in the football community would have been too outraged if the board at Southampton had opted for a change, with nearly a whole season left to play.
But Adkins managed to plug the defence, and now Southampton are on an upward curve, having repaired much of the early season damage.
It’s always been clear Saints had plenty of talent in attack, just ask those at the Etihad, when Rickie Lambert and co gave the champions a scare in their very first game back in the big time.
However, for the hierarchy at Southampton at least, it would seem Adkins is not a suitable candidate to take the club towards their new vision of “sustained Premier league success”.
Whatever that means exactly, Champions League football perhaps?
The timing of this sacking is simply mystifying. In their wisdom, the board at St Mary’s have ousted Adkins in favour of a young Argentine coach, with no experience of English football.
It’s not like their new man brings with him a glowing resume either.
Mauricio Pochettino, who was a player at Espanyol, took charge of the Spanish outfit in 2008, leading them to three mid-table finishes, though a disastrous start to this campaign caused club and manager to part through mutual consent in November.
Of course, it is too early to make considered judgements on his abilities, but Pochettino will have a job on his hands to bring the players round to his methods and more importantly keep them in the league with only half a season remaining.
Saints’ fate remains a question for the future, but what is certain from this latest debacle is that there are very, very few top jobs that can be deemed as safe anymore.
You have Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger, (though even the Frenchman’s position is being questioned this season) and perhaps at a push Roberto Martínez, who could trust in unwavering support from their chairmen.
Loyalty to those such as Adkins, is sadly fast becoming a thing of the past and football is a worse game for it.◀ The Sport Review homepageNext story ►
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