Saints have been the talk of the football world for all the wrong reasons following the sacking of Nigel Adkins.
Chairman Nicola Cortese's decision has sparked an avalance of trenchant opinion from the following Sunday columnists:
Stan Collymore (Sunday People): “Nigel Adkins has been treated in a shambolic manner. There is a trend for clubs to turn to Spain at the moment whenever they need help. I can see why but just because Mauricio Pochettino has worked in La Liga does not mean he will be the next Michael Laudrup. Like the director of football, it doesn’t always work. Adkins is a good English manager, he’d done his apprenticeship in the lower leagues and pushed Southampton into the Premier League ahead of the schedule set out by club chairman Nicola Cortese. He’s just picked up a terrific point at Chelsea and it looked like Saints had a real chance of staying up. His reward? The sack.”
Jim Holden (Sunday Express): “The presence of an interpreter at the unveiling of Southampton’s new boss Mauricio Pochettino rang the alarm bells for me about the most shocking managerial change for many a year. It’s always a gamble when a football club puts a new man in charge of the first team. It’s a double gamble when the departing manager was as popular and successful as Nigel Adkins. It’s an incredible treble risk when an interpreter is required. Managers who don’t understand and speak our language with some fluency do not fare well in English football. Fabio Capello is the most famous example and Juande Ramos is the best example in his utter failure at Tottenham, even though he arrived with impeccable credentials from Spain. Now it may be that Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese is a very clever as well as a ruthless and demanding chap. But this move shrieks of stupidity. It looks like the action of a man being too clever by half for his own club’s good.”
Paul Wilson (The Observer): “Adkins losing his job must have brought a blush to the cheek of the established Premier League managers below him in the table, at Aston Villa, Newcastle and Wigan. It does not appear to have brought a blush to the cheek of Nicola Cortese who, despite strong competition, may be about to make a name for himself as the oddest, most impulsive and least predictable chairman. Anyone who strikes the normally anodyne Matt Le Tissier as "not a very nice human being" is not going to remain a Hampshire secret for long and even Cortese's friends concede he can be unconventional and confrontational...Cortese might be on to a good thing: his latest appointment could mark him out as a talent-spotter extraordinaire, and Saints fans could live to regret all the fun they have been having at the Italian banker's expense on his Wikipedia page. Or, and this seems more likely, this is the point where Southampton turn into the new Blackburn.”
Daniel Taylor (The Observer): "Southampton, in short, can have a funny way of doing things – though not funny in the traditional sense when you consider that successive promotions, then establishing a side with a good shout of staying in the Premier League have not spared Nigel Adkins from being fired. Add in the fact that his replacement, the former Argentina international Mauricio Pochettino, does not speak English and was sacked from his last job after taking Espanyol to the bottom of La Liga and it is tempting to wonder if Southampton’s executive chairman, Nicola Cortese, doubles up as a member of the Silly Party.”
Michael Calvin (Independent on Sunday) compares Nicola Cortese with Swansea City defender Angel Ramel, who fed the homeless a few hours after Adkins' sacking: "They are, in the loosest sense, economic migrants. Each came from Europe to forge a career in football and have worked assiduously to progress to the Premier League from League One. Spiritually, they inhabit different planets. Cortese’s sacking of Nigel Adkins, hours before Rangel’s charitable endeavour, understandably enraged the football community. It was conspicuously callous and counter-intuitive, because of Southampton’s run of two defeats in 12 games, and will deepen disillusion. It is not unusual for an incoming manager to prepare clandestinely for weeks to take over from the unwitting victim of his latent ambition. Few are as brazen or unguarded as Mauricio Pochettino, who admitted his part in the charade through an ill-starred interpreter."
Patrick Collins (Mail on Sunday): "As football managers go, Nigel Adkins is an unusual chap. He doesn't scream at referees, strike theatrical poses, blame players for his own shortcomings or behave as if the world revolved around Nigel Adkins. Instead, he seems refreshingly normal and rather good at his job. In 26 months at Southampton, he lifted his team by 51 places and won them two promotions. But those promotions were his biggest mistake. For suddenly, Southampton began to be noticed. The chairman, one Nicola Cortese, came scampering towards the spotlight; a minor clown in search of a major role. Instead of enjoying extraordinary progress, he started to make deluded decisions, like looking for a new manager. Four games into Southampton's unbeaten run, he found him. The new man is Mauricio Pochettino, who speaks little English and has just been sacked by Espanyol after a relatively brief but notably unsuccessful tenure. Adkins has won overwhelming sympathy but his record ensures that he will soon find congenial employment. As for Cortese, renewed obscurity beckons. He will not be missed."