Back on January 18 2013, Premier League side Southampton confirmed that they had parted company with manager Nigel Adkins.
The Englishman had been in charge at St Mary’s since taking over from Alan Pardew back in 2010, playing a vital role in helping establish the Saints as a top-flight side having taken them from League One to the Premier League during his two-and-a-half year reign.
Yet his stint in charge on the South Coast came to a somewhat surprising end back in January 2013, what with his team in the midst of a five-game unbeaten run, in news which seriously riled several Southampton supporters on Twitter…
@officialsaints Pathetic and disloyal. Gutted.
— Ade Spencer (@SpencerAde) January 18, 2013
This is the worst decision in the clubs history. Awful.
— David Harvey (@davejharvey) January 18, 2013
@officialsaints Do us fans get an explanation? Of course we don’t, never thought I’d say this but I’m embarrassed to be a fan of our club!
— Gary Dabbs (@SaintDabbsie) January 18, 2013
— Karen Jenkinson (@Naiahmyah) January 20, 2013
— Mackenzie Collins (@madmanmacka) January 19, 2013
@officialsaints a dreadful lack of integrity from Saints. Shame on you Cortese. The revolving door of management begins to spin once again
— Richard Lambert (@richjlambert) January 19, 2013
— Will Pender (@WillPender1) January 18, 2013
@officialsaints This is a reprehensible mistake.
— George Ankers (@georgeankers) January 18, 2013
And while there was much angst at the treatment of Adkins given everything he had done for the club during his spell in charge, the fact that his predecessor Mauricio Pochettino built on his work suggests that the board did pull off something of a masterstroke, even if it wasn’t at all a popular decision.
Ultimately, 53-year-old Adkins took over at St Mary’s with the club languishing in League One and very much in need of a boost to get it back to its former glories, which the Englishman did admirably in leading the club to promotion upon taking over from Pardew in September 2010.
He may well have lost his first game in charge in going down 2-0 to MK Dons on September 15, leaving them in the division’s relegation zone, only for Adkins to then get the very best out of his squad in leading them to 27 victories in his 42 league games in charge that term, finishing runners-up to Brighton to ensure a return to the Championship.
And the Saints didn’t stop there in securing back-to-back promotions by seriously impressing in the Championship the season after, scoring a division high 85 goals and winning 26 matches to finish second in the table behind champions Reading, thus booking their spot in the Premier League for the 2012/13 season in what would be their first top-flight campaign since 2004/05.
Significantly, Adkins brought the good times back to St Mary’s with a brand of exciting and attacking football – yes, his teams weren’t always the best defensively, but they would invariably create many chances and score a hatful of goals.
And there is little doubting that he deserved his shot at Premier League level with the Saints after leading them away from the bottom of League One, although it was far from an easy start for the 53-year-old given they lost eight of their opening ten league matches.
However, he began to turn things around by the time he was relieved of his duties in January 2013, with his side having lost just twice in their 11 league games prior to his dismissal – it was a strange call and one that really angered many Southampton fans.
And while the decision to appoint Pochettino did prove to be a masterstroke, what with the Argentine leading them to 14th place that season and then eighth place the season after, it doesn’t detract from the bad treatment of Adkins by the Saints hierarchy – they stuck with him during the tough times at the start of the season, and then got rid of him when his team were beginning to show vast improvements.
So while the club were in the end vindicated in their decision, it was a massive risk to take getting rid of Adkins – a man who did so much for the Saints during his time at St Mary’s, earning much respect from Southampton fans along the way.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!