There is a thin line between audacity and naivety and Nigel Adkins intends to continue brushing the boundary, adamant that his approach will lead Southampton to success. He accepts the risks involved and he is aware that, if victories do not start to come quickly, then he could win the Premier League sack race. That particular race could conclude next weekend, when Adkins' Southampton travel to Mark Hughes' bottom-placed Queens Park Rangers. To the victor a boost, to the loser the boot?
It is hard to second-guess the reactions of the Southampton executive chairman, Nicola Cortese, who keeps Adkins' employment status under constant review, but it is safe to assume that the manager will go to Loftus Road in search of three points. His is not a side built to scrap for draws, even if that is all they got from Swansea City, a contest in which defeat would have left the Saints at the foot of the table and their manager with at least one foot out of the door.
Adkins' approach to such a high-stakes game reflected the philosophy to which he remains committed: forget back-to-basics and shoring things up, his team were attack-minded and his selection reflected an apparent belief that it is better to trust more in potential than in experience.
"We've set out a vision to bring the youth through our system here," says Adkins. "Unless you give them that opportunity to perform, you're never going to find out about them."
Not many managers in his position would have sought to solidify a defence that has been ruinously error-prone for much of this season by turning to a 17-year-old making his first start but that is what Adkins did, deploying Luke Shaw at left-back ahead of the Scotland international Danny Fox.
He also elected to persist with the 20-year-old Argentinian Paulo Gazzaniga in goal ahead of Artur Boruc – when Adkins signed the Pole for free in September he declared the goalkeeper's experience could prove invaluable but when push comes to shove Adkins tends to plump for the more talented player rather than the tried and tested. Southampton's expensive summer recruitment followed a similar policy, with the result that most of the squad have never played in the Premier League before; the starting line-up had an average age of 23.3.
A mistake by Gazzaniga contributed to Swansea's Nathan Dyer nicking a goal in the 74th minute – the goalkeeper's misguided pass allowing the midfielder to beat Maya Yoshida to the ball and fire into the net – but, on the flip side, Shaw put in an accomplished display before departing with cramp late on, the 23-year-old Morgan Schneiderlin scored a fine goal, the 24-year-old Adam Lallana embellished his reputation with another excellent performance and the 23-year-old Jack Cork returned from injury to make an encouraging impact.
Although a draw was less than Southampton were seeking, it was impressive that, despite being on a negative streak and under serious pressure to win, there was no panic in the team's play. There is an encouraging swagger that comes, no doubt, from the manager's mentality and the fact that the club arrived in the Premier League on the back of two successive promotions.
"Obviously there is a lot of media attention but the players again showed great composure [against Swansea], kept a good shape and created opportunities," Adkins said. "For such a young side that is very pleasing. We realise we've got to get results. We all know that. But our performances and character demonstrate everyone is pulling in the same direction."
The players back their manager. "The gaffer has done great here," says Cork. "The lads have always given their all over these two years and they're not going to stop now. The lads are going to keep playing for the gaffer. We know the way he likes to do it and I know the lads all like having him here. He's a good gaffer."
Swansea, of course, provide a model from which Southampton can take inspiration and their scorer, a graduate of Southampton's youth academy, believes his old club will emulate the Welsh side's feat in staying in the top flight after promotion last season.
"For us it was unity [that helped Swansea stay up]," says Dyer. "We were able to stay together and make sure we were all in it together even if sometimes you don't get the rub of the green. I've watched Southampton a few times this season and I feel they'll do well."
Man of the match Adam Lallana (Southampton)