Some may question the rather modest appointment of a man who just four years ago was thrust from his role as club physiotherapist into the managerial hot-seat at Scunthorpe United, but the Glanford Park faithful are of a privileged few to understand and have witnessed the true accomplishments of Nigel Adkins.
He may not be the household name Southampton – and most notably chairman Nicola Cortese – had suggested the club would be seeking to employ after being deluged with applicants for the vacant managers position at St Mary’s but nevertheless, Adkins comes with his own distinct reputation.
Cortese was quick to acknowledge this in a statement released on the club website, stating: “We were inundated with applications from an impressive range of managers – a far cry from the position we found ourselves in when we last appointed a manager – and Nigel stood out from the start. What is clear from the excellence of the applicants is that the outside world is now beginning to acknowledge the quality of new thinking and ideas we are applying at Southampton.”
Two promotions to the Championship from League One – one of which yielded a champions medal – working on one of the most restrictive budgets in the division is a testament to his ability to nurture young prospects and will become a huge compliment as Cortese looks to run the club in a financially sound manner. Billy Sharp and Gary Hooper stand out amongst the wealth of ability Adkins has fostered in his short yet distinguished managerial career and with a first-class youth set-up at his disposal on the south coast, the hierarchy at St Mary’s will be expecting their new boss to bring a fresh wave of talent through the ranks.
The ex-Iron boss has already outlined his personal goals after signing on a three-year deal declaring; “I’m really looking forward to this fresh new challenge, and I’m very optimistic of where we can take this football club. To come into this working environment, it makes it a joy every morning to get up and come into work. We’ve got a good bunch of players here, who have good attitudes, and fantastic staff.”
Still, Adkins will have to hit the ground running if he is to kick-start a faltering Southampton campaign. Four points from as many games this season culminated in the dismissal of former boss Alan Pardew and a shocking 3-0 defeat to Swindon in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy will put an extra emphasis on achieving promotion this term. The new gaffer will have to make his bow at an unfavourable trip to in-form MK Dons who will be looking to cement their own status as genuine promotion candidates, but the true examination of Adkins’ credentials will come at Sheffield Wednesday when Saints play the high-flying Owls in two weeks time.