Today Southampton has a new manager. The owners of the club, for whatever reason, recently decided that Nigel Adkins is not the man to lead the Saints any further in their Premier League campaign despite the club sitting sixth from bottom. The club announced the decision with nothing more than “Southampton Football Club has this morning appointed Mauricio Pochettino as First Team Manager, having relieved Nigel Adkins of his managerial duties.”
Where does the managerial merry-go-round end? When must owners re-take the ‘fit and proper’ test? Is there anything to be done about the sheer insanity of some recent managerial sackings?
The average reader might not be too familiar with the plight of Southampton Football Club. The Saints were a founding member of the Premier League after decades in the top flight. After fighting the good fight for years, including some solid upper half finishes, the club was finally relegated from the top level in 2005. After several seasons involving further relegation, administration and managerial changes the team found themselves in League One, the third level of English football.
In 2009, current Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was appointed to lead the club, and the rebuilding began under the new owner, Markus Liebherr. Pardew signed several key players still with the club like Rickie Lambert, Jason Puncheon, and Jose Fonte. All of Pardew’s signings totaled only £3 million, but this was far more than any other League One club. The owner’s support and intentions were clear.
In 2010 even more pain was inflicted on the club when Liebherr passed away and Pardew was sacked for various reasons. Luckily, Liebherr left the club with a solid financial footing.
In September 2010, Nigel Adkins was announced as the new manager of Southampton and the stunning climb through the tables of English football began.
In Adkins’ first season in charge, he guided the club to 92 points, second place in League One and earned an automatic promotion to the Championship. The most optimistic supporters wouldn’t know Premier League football was just over a year away. One season in the 2nd tier is all the Saints needed as they stormed through the Championship maintaining a high spot in the table all season. Two seasons, two automatic promotions.
After an undeniably impressive 28 months in charge we arrive at present day and the sacking of Adkins after 22 games in the Premier League. Madness.
After £20m in record signings, Southampton’s season still started off with a bumpy ride. Adkins was clearly finding his footing in the world’s most competitive league, and a sacking would have seemed more appropriate in Oct when they battled QPR for the bottom spot.