Following a 4-1 defeat to West Ham in October Nigel Adkins, 47, divulged that he recites ‘The Guy in the Glass’, by Dale Wimbrow, when seeking solace after defeat. Needless to say, having been forced out of Saint Mary’s last week to be replaced by Mauricio Pochettino, Adkins will certainly be revisiting those famous lines, but how aptly do they ring home here?
The poem concludes, “You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years, and get pats on the back as you pass, but your final reward will be heartaches and tears if you’ve cheated the guy in the glass”. Having gained successive promotions to the top flight of English football, received acclaim for his team’s fluent style, and on the back of a run of only two defeats in their past ten Premier league fixtures, Nigel Adkins deserved more than a pat on the back as his Southampton side resided in 15th.
Unlike fellow new boys West Ham United, playing to their strengths through direct balls and percentage passing, Southampton have retained their short passing style and quick counter-attacking football – a gamble which has failed many newly promoted teams in the past.
Yet club Chairman Nicola Cortese dismissed the esteemed young manager last Friday, with many fans dismayed by the decision. Cortese said, “This decision has been made with the long-term ambitions of Southampton Football Club in mind. “Whilst acknowledging the contribution Nigel has made during the past two years, for the club to progress and achieve our long-term targets a change was needed”.
Adkins was swiftly replaced by former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino, 40, who has been out of work since last November. In a seemingly like-for-like switch, he favours a stylish passing game based around a strong system of youth development, making Southampton an ideal destination.
However, having only managed in Spain, he does not speak English, giving him a severe disadvantage when communicating with those players who have risen from the ranks. Despite talks of a fan protest, the Argentine took charge of his new club’s 0-0 draw with Everton on Monday night receiving a quietly warm welcome. Still banners remained condemning their chairman’s decision, and certainly they felt cheated by Cortese. More importantly though, returning to the words of Wimbrow, should Adkins feel that he has “cheated the guy in the glass”?
Certainly not. Having retained style and prowess to return the Saints to their top-flight, and brought through some of the brightest British talent around, Adkins has stuck to his guns throughout. Two weeks ago, several managers were above the Englishman in the odds for who would be sacked next, and other managers continue to stand on the brink, begging the question; could “the guy in the glass” be knocking on the door of a new club sooner rather than later?
By Jamie Kirby