Southampton: A Reputation To Be Earned

Nigel Adkins had a reason, rather than an excuse for a poor start last season, but Mauricio Pochettino doesn't. He must justify his reputation, and quickly...

Last Updated: 07/08/13 at 12:26 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Football People On TV: Gordon Strachan

Post comment

Chippy arse? Aye...do you want some? Wee Gordie is never anything other than entertaining, even if he is wearing adult man¿s shorts as trousers. Especially so....

F365's Transfer Guide - Part Five

Post comment

Our final part, and the question of what on earth will happen at West Ham? Plus there is much to ponder for Spurs - evolution or yet another revolution at White Hart Lane...

All Articles

LAST SEASON

Premier League 14th FA Cup third round League Cup fourth round

Manager Mauricio Pochettino (since January 2013) Odds on being first out of his job 16-1 (6th)

Players in Victor Wanyama (Celtic, £12.5m), Dejan Lovren (Lyon, £8.5m)

Players out None of significance

Club turnover in 2011-12 N/A

Handicap betting to win Premier League +35 points (9th)

As Nigel Adkins sets out in search of a third promotion in four seasons, Mauricio Pochettino embarks on what is intended to be a first full season in England. To many - including this writer - the replacement of Adkins after lifting the Saints from League One smacked of ingratitude. Yet there would have been few arguments had Southampton carried on the way they started. Opening the campaign with four defeats, culminating in a 6-1 defeat to Arsenal, does not quite tell the story: 3-2 defeats to both Manchester clubs came in worthy performances. But the other loss was 2-0 at home to Wigan and there was just one victory in the first 10 games.

What shocked was that by January 18 Southampton had lost two of their previous 12 league games and had just come away from Stamford Bridge with a point. Yes, they were 15th, but two months earlier they had been 19th. Adkins and his team were finding their feet, when he was cut off at the knees. Pochettino was only able to lift them a single place, and that on goal difference. He took 19 points from 16 games as opposed to Adkins's 22 from 22 but, similar to Paolo Di Canio's "improvement" of Sunderland, that boils down to a single win. And having had four points from 10 games, Adkins had claimed 18 in his last dozen.

The Argentinian is given credit for tightening up the Saints and it is true that an inherited goal difference of -10 declined by only a single goal over his tenure - but the last defeat Adkins suffered by more than one goal had come on November 5 and he had improved it from -14 to that -10 by the time he was sacked.

There seems, nonetheless, to be broad acceptance among Saints fans about what happened. But one wonders how they will feel if the perceived improvement in style does not deliver significant returns in terms of points - all the more so given the splashing out on Victor Wanyama and Dejan Lovren. That £20m investment is considerable for a club so recently in dire financial straits, albeit one now enjoying the new Premier League TV deal.

The message from the bookies is mixed. On the one hand the handicap betting places Southampton ninth, a considerable rise on their final placing. On the other, Pochettino is sixth favourite to be first out of his job, though that may reflect a belief he could be lured away (and there have been rumours to that effect). But neither figure reflects that this is in theory the difficult second season for a side that finished with 41 points. Any slip back and they are in severe danger.

The dismissal of the manager eroded a considerable feelgood factor about the St Mary's club. They had returned from the brink of oblivion, or at least League One, and brought players with them, most gloriously Rickie Lambert, the journeyman made good. The Premier League is richer for drawing members from as wide a geographical spread as possible. It would be good to be able to embrace Southampton. But doing so feels a little dirty.

Perhaps Pochettino, with a pre-season to instil his ideas, can improve more than just the tackling and pressing. But there was little to choose between most of the bottom half and it would be no surprise if Southampton laboured to escape that category.

Adkins had reason, rather than excuse, for his poor start. With away games at West Brom and Norwich and visits from Sunderland and West Ham in the opening weeks, his successor needs to show quickly that there is substance to his reputation.

Philip Cornwall

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

T

ypical Bodgers, in desperate need of a defensive midfielder and go for a floaty number 10 type midfielder. BODGERS OUT.

uncle monty
The Home Gossip

B

enteke is an absolute steal for £32.5m, he would get into any team in the world (except Barcelona) at the moment. I've seen many very good strikers in my 30+ years as a Villa fan. This guy is the best without question.

sparkigol
Benteke's £32.5m release clause

A

ll he wants are sharks with frickin lazers on their heads. Is that too much to ask?

mufc phil
Bomb threat on FIFA D-day

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa: Dominant Gunners seal record FA Cup victory

Holders Arsenal won the FA Cup for a record 12th time after beating Aston Villa 4-0 in a one-sided final at Wembley.

Prince William demands FIFA reform after week of scandal

Prince William has called for FIFA to reform, claiming it must show that it "can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first".

Inverness 2-1 Falkirk: James Vincent the matchwinner Caley leave it late to clinch Scottish Cup

Inverness Caley won the Scottish Cup for the first time with a dramatic 2-1 victory over spirited Falkirk at Hampden.

Mail Box

Players Must Stand Up For Qatar Boycott

Players, not bureaucrats, hold the key to boycotting Qatar. Also in the afternoon mailbox: Wenger is right to rotate, Zlatan can dribble, and it's Barca v Ajax in the budget final...

What Would You Do If You Were Blatter?

Step into Sepp's shoes, is the invitation from one mailboxer. Also: United already have their new number one, Rodgers deserves time, and the best Budget XI so far...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company