Southampton FC: Long-Term Thinking

10

January 21, 2013 by rubbishfootballer

Nigel Adkins during happier times at Southampton.

Nigel Adkins during happier times at Southampton.

The timing of Nigel Adkins’ sacking came as a shock to everyone in the footballing world. Adkins, who had led the south coast club to two successive promotions, was sacked on Friday and immediately replaced by Argentine Mauricio Pochettino. Adkins left Southampton in a respectable 15th position in their first season back in the top flight. His job seemed uncertain earlier on in the season as the club picked up just two league wins in their first ten games. However, just two defeats in their previous twelve games saw The Saints undergo a mini-revival that pushed them clear of the relegation zone and seemingly keeping their manager’s job safe for the time being.

Football clubs are often criticised for their short term decision making when deciding to sack managers. Many clubs are too quick in pulling the managerial trigger, feeling the pressure to succeed bearing down on them. However, with regard to Southampton, this does not seem to be the case. The man they have chosen to replace the popular Adkins is not a short-term option whose sole purpose is to steer the club away from relegation. Pochettino is a young, ambitious manager who comes to Southampton to build a legacy, not to keep the club afloat in the top flight. Idealistic perhaps, but the club can not be accused of taking the safe option.

The 40 year old Argentine comes to Southampton with an impressive reputation from his time in Spain. Despite his time at Espanyol ending on a sore note which saw him relieved of his duties as manager earlier this season, it is his earlier work at the Spanish club that means he is still highly regarded by his former employer’s fans. Pochettino took over the Spanish club in January 2009, having previously been a player for the Catalonian side. Placed in the relegation zone when he took over, Pochettino led his side on a late-season revival  finishing a respectable 10th position in La Liga. He went on to lead the side to three more respectable La Liga finishes, including an 8th place finish in the 2010-2011 season.

New man Mauricio Pochettino must win over the Southampton faithful.

New man Mauricio Pochettino must win over the Southampton faithful.

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague was quick to voice his approval of the appointment on Twitter, claiming that Southampton have appointed a “superb manager with a vision”. He went on to add that Saints fans should be “excited” following Pochettino’s arrival, going on to praise his commitment, style and tactical prowess. Balague likened Southampton’s new manager to that of Swansea’s boss Michael Laudrup in terms of their similar footballing styles. The Argentine is known for his quick-paced, attacking football, believing in the importance of ball retention and quick pressing. A style of play that should, on paper, excite dubious Southampton supporters.

Although Southampton’s new manager is yet to take charge of a game and has much to do to win over an angered support base, it could be exciting times ahead for the football club. Pochettino’s appointment is certainly a progressive one, and despite an overwhelming feeling that Nigel Adkins’ departure was unjust, the Southampton hierarchy can not be accused of standing still. Time will ultimately tell, but Southampton Football Club could be in for an exciting future under their new progressive manager.

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10 thoughts on “Southampton FC: Long-Term Thinking

  1. The appointment of Pochettino bears similarities to that of McLeish at Nottingham Forest – outsiders thrust on teams improving as the season progresses by uncaring, distant owners who appear to know the price of everything but the value of nothing, to the despair of true fans. It will be intriguing to see if the gamble bySouthampton and Forest’s autocratic, one party rulers pays off. My money is on them meeting in 2013/14 – in the Champoionship…

    • The difference I see is Forest’s appointment is safe and predictable. O’Driscoll was a brave choice in the summer. Sacking him and appointing an average manager like McLeish is for me, short-termist. Defensive football, mixed football, you know what you’re going to get, etc etc. You can’t say that with Pochettino. It’s a risk, but an exciting one. Will it pay off? Only time will tell.

  2. I think they have made a mistake despite whatever happens, adkins was learning and new to PL football, I think at some stage Southampton will live to regret sac king him like they did and as quick as they did..time will tell!

  3. Your point about Pochettino is a fair one. He does have a reputation for stylish football but this is still a potentially reckless gamble. It will take some time for someone with no previous experience of the English game to adjust and he does not have the advantage of speaking the language. My main concern though is the message this sends out to young English coaches who are being denied opportunities at the top level. It is also likely that the Argentine will look abroad to strengthen his squad. Where will that leave players like Lambert, Puncheon and Clyne who have demonstrated that the gap from the lower leagues can be successfully bridged?

    • You make a fair point Sage. My sympathy goes to Mr Adkins who deserved his shot in the top flight and on paper was doing a good job. My point is more who they have replaced him with, more so than the decision to sack him. Their choice of replacement is an exciting one. Will it pay-off? Time will tell. You raise a good point re Lambert, etc. It will be interesting to see what happpens with the likes of him.

  4. mapperleystag1 says:

    Think the point that needs to be made here is not over the suitability of Pochettino for the job (although his management record is decidely mixed compared with Adkins’, having been sacked only two months ago with Espanyol rooted at the bottom of La Liga). Instead, it is further evidence of an increasing trend in modern football, with owners seemingly driven more by profit than by a love for their club. The fact that Adkins had led Southampton to a crucial win away at Villa, followed by an equally impressive draw at Stamford Bridge makes his sacking all the more bizarre. However Pochettino performs for the remainder of the season is frankly irrelevant. Even if he keeps the Saints up, that does in no way provide a justification for getting rid of Adkins, as he was demonstrating that he had more than enough managerial ability to keep the club safe, and most importantly, was adapting to league as recent results have highlighted.

    • Justifying sacking Adkins is not what I am aiming to do. That decision has been made, rightly or wrongly. Now that decision has been made, my point is that at least they have appointed a manager with a long-term vision and haven’t gone for a ‘safe’ pair of hands. I do not think how he performs is irrelavant at all, though. Early signs will justify whether his appointment looks to be a good one or not.

      • mapperleystag1 says:

        Ok but you say “Many clubs are too quick in pulling the managerial trigger, feeling the pressure to succeed bearing down on them. However, with regard to Southampton, this does not seem to be the case,” which seems to contradict what you’ve said above. You make a persuasive argument for why Pochettino is a progressive appointment. However, I think sacking a manager who won back-to-back promotions with the club and was adjusting well to Premier League management is the very definition of a regressive move, regardless of how Pochettino performs.

      • Not at all. Again, that is not a justification of why Adkins was sacked. I am just stating that I feel it was not a rash decision. The deal to bring Pocettino had clearly been in place for a while. The man himself made a comment about having studied the side for weeks previous to his appointment. So if Southampton were to say qualify for Europe next season. Would you still class it as a regressive move?

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