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Time To Stand By Your Man
Footytubeblog (Blog) 4 years ago
It would appear that the marvel and amazement that’s surrounded the brilliant journey that Southampton boss Nigel Adkins has taken his team on, hasn’t just stopped with back-to-back promotions over the last two seasons.

Indeed, as the Saints went into last Saturday’s game with Aston Villa, somewhere deep within St. Mary’s, dark murmurings had seemingly risen over the future of Adkins’ tenure. A grand total of four defeats on the trot had already led a giddy few to title the Villa game as a ‘must win’ fixture and a potential ‘six pointer’ in Southampton’s efforts to beat the drop.

It would seem that even those from the most humble of journeys remain susceptible to the inherent short-sightedness and lack of perspective that comes with a place in the nation’s top flight.
To elaborate further, let’s take a look at the scenario the Saints found themselves in before brilliantly putting four past Villa at St. Mary’s last weekend.

It’s difficult to understand what Southampton may have done to the Premier League fixture computer in a previous life, but whatever it was, it couldn’t have been particularly good. The fixture list treated Nigel Adkins men with absolute contempt and three of their first four fixtures were just about as hard as they could have possibly got.
Matches against the two best teams in the land, in Manchester City and Manchester United beckoned, sandwiched in between a tricky tie against Roberto Martinez’ Wigan, awaited.  The fourth? A trip to play perhaps the best passing side on these shores at the Emirates, with a daunting tie against Arsenal, waiting in the wings. Three of these four fixtures represent games that a vast majority of the Premier League could expect to come out of with diddly-squat. Let alone a team trying to find their feet and settle into some kind of rhythm, upon promotion from the Championship.

Ultimately, Southampton were unable to reap anything from these four games, but even then, their efforts still arguably superseded expectation. In games against the league winners and runners up from last season, they put away two goals apiece and can perhaps count themselves hugely unfortunate to not have come away with anything.

So as many woke up to read the shadowy rumours suggesting that Adkins head was looming close to the metaphorical chopping block, you couldn’t help but look twice as to what was being said. But what’s more, some seemed to be in total collusion with his touted exit talk.

Apparently, after losing 2-0 at home to what many believe is a Wigan side that is more than beatable, as well as shipping a calamitous six goals at the Emirates, Adkins side couldn’t afford a loss at home to Villa. And in some respects, there was credence to both points of such critique. Roberto Martinez’s team are more than beatable and despite looking dangerous in the first half, the Saints offered a very meek challenge indeed in the second. The quality of defending at times during the 6-1 loss to Arsenal certainly didn’t make for great viewing either.

But there has to be perspective when analyzing not just the positives of the two Manchester games, but the negatives of the Wigan and Arsenal ties. Putting the Arsenal game up in lights on Match of the Day and crucifying the defence is all very well, but adapting to the rigors of this league does not happen overnight. As Adkins very astutely said during his post-match interview after the Arsenal game, the Saints’ season started in name in August but in virtue last Saturday. It’s only fair and right for us to accept that notion.

This is a man that has guided his team to back-to-back promotions, playing a more than admirable brand of football along the way. He has had to deal with an untenably difficult opening set of fixures during an adjustment period to a new league that is notoriously fraught with difficulty. It simply beggars belief that some have found it fit to even contemplate speculating upon the ex-Scunthorpe manager’s future.

How founded was the speculation surrounding chairman Nicola Cortese’s supposedly penchant for change? As with all speculation, until we hear something more solid it will remain difficult to tell, but we’ve been here enough times to suggest that very rarely is there smoke without fire.

But as difficult as it may seem at the moment, Adkins must be backed and Cortese must find a degree of perspective, too. You could make a good argument that Southampton’s fixture list has been equally, if not more difficult, than that of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, so far this term. The Ulsterman’s side currently sit two places below Southampton with one point less in 18th, with both clubs having played five matches.

In fact, they’ve certainly had a harder run of games than the likes of their touted rivals to beat the drop have had, in QPR, Norwich and Reading, who make up the four teams below them in the table. You can rightly argue that it’s early teams for all the aforementioned sides, but the same applies for Southampton. The league is only five games old. The boardroom at St. Mary’s should take their finger well away from the trigger, for now anyway.

Of course, the onslaught never ends in the Barclays Premier League and in some ways the cliché rings true – a trip to high-flying Everton at Goodison Park awaits next in the league.  But it’s time to focus on the positives, not the negatives. Adkins’ side has shown most importantly, they have what it takes to score goals in this league. Defensively, things must improve, but talk of firing the boss this early in the season rings hollow in so many ways.

Written by Sam Antrobus

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Matt (Footytube Staff) 4 years ago
I am not sure about the 'no smoke without fire' rule in this case. No Saints fans I spoke to wanted Adkins out and I would be shocked if Cortese made a knee jerk decision to sack and replace him.

Southampton used to be a club where the manager would be in position for many years but in the last 12 years we have had 17 managers in the 12 years prior to that 6. I do not think it is any coincidence that this fast turnaround in managers coincided with our slide down the leagues. The last thing the fans want now is further upheaval.

Nigel Adkins has all the tools to be a very good manager and is in the group of modern managers that can really make a difference at a club at every level. Just give him time and resources and he will keep us in the league and move us towards a place in Europe. Which is in the chairman 10 year plan, getting to the Premier League was a 5 year plan achieved in 3
Dinglehater2 (West Bromwich Albion) 4 years ago
I'm certain a lot of people not just Saints fans think that sacking Adkins this early in the season or sacking him in general would be a disastrous move. An important thing that a lot of fans picked on was his comment before the Villa game where he stated that the Saints season commences today. A fair point to make considering your previous games. Everyone witnessed your games against the Manchester clubs and applauded your performance. Indeed you were very unlucky not get any points from those two opening games but the game against Villa showed what the Saints/Adkins can do.coming back from a goal to win the game 1-4 was a pleasure to watch (not just cause Villa are one of our rivals) but the performance the team put out there. Ramirez is an exceptional signing and his quality was clear in that game. His passing was top notch. Anyway Adkins has outdone himself. Achieving the chairman's 5 year plan in 3 and gaining back to back promotions just goes to show his quality as a manager. I'm certain or hoping your chairman doesn't make a rash decision to get rid of him at any stage of the season. This might not be a good example to use but last season Wolves were struggling and they decided to sack Mick McCarthy. A lot of the Wolves fans I spoke to were absolutely gutted to have seen him leave and the club went into shambles and got relegated. Goes to show that having one manager and putting faith in him to do his job could go and do wonders for the club. I'm hoping the Saints can do this and show the football world a clubs faith in their manager

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