Southampton's new manager, Mauricio Pochettino, is braced for a testing first experience of life in charge at St Mary's on Monday with supporters expected to vent their spleen over the sacking of Nigel Adkins.
That anger will be directed at the hierarchy and primarily the executive chairman Nicola Cortese, with support for Adkins to be bellowed from the stands and talk of fans waving white handkerchiefs to display their displeasure. The playing staff were shocked and surprised by the timing of Adkins' dismissal, with the team having lost only two of their last 12 league games. They were informed of the decision by the captain, Adam Lallana, on Friday morning but remain focused on defeating Everton to maintain that recent revival.
Pochettino took his first training session on Saturday, having met three senior players – Lallana, Jose Fonte and Kelvin Davis – at St Mary's the day before to gauge the mood within the squad. The 40-year-old is acutely aware of the success enjoyed under his predecessor and has sought to assess the level of support he will enjoy within the set-up, with any fears apparently allayed. The players emerged from their first experience of life under the Argentinian impressed by his approach and with some of their concerns over his command of English eased.
The discontent in the stands may take longer to quell. The former Southampton player Matt Le Tissier, who has never seen eye to eye with Cortese, has echoed the views of many fans by criticising Cortese's decision not to attend Pochettino's inaugural press conference. "I don't know if Nigel was becoming too popular and the chairman didn't like it, but he does appear to have a bit of an ego problem," Le Tissier told BBC Radio 5 Live. "It is a little bit bizarre but some of the decisions that have been made have been a little bit bizarre since the chairman took over. In a way it wasn't a surprise because I think he's been looking to get rid of him for a while now.
"The strangest thing was that he brings in the new manager about a minute after he sacked Nigel and then he hangs the new manager out to dry at a press conference on his own, which I thought was an incredibly cowardly thing to do. If he's going to make those decisions surely he owes it to the fans to sit there and explain his decision. But he wasn't brave enough to do that."
David Moyes said: "I think if they're going to have a protest it'll be more in support of Nigel Adkins. But I don't think Southampton supporters can protest at the way their club has moved forward in the last two or three years."
The Everton manager is considering shelving plans to sell Johnny Heitinga during the midwinter window. The Dutch international had appeared a saleable asset and a means of raising funds to strengthen elsewhere, but Moyes is keen to retain as much cover at centre-half as possible. Darron Gibson is expected to return to first-team contention in the next fortnight.