Adkins pressure shows madness of modern football
Published: 27.11.12 / Written by: David Gold
Nigel Adkins apparently fears the sack before the weekend, and it is no surprise given that reports have suggested Southampton and their executive chairman Nicola Cortese is considering the manager’s position.
"Someone is always going to be the favourite to be sacked," said Adkins. "If you're bottom of the league, you should be the favourite probably. I'm not going to hide away from that, but what a great challenge we face."
Just ten games into the season, too. Yes, Southampton are bottom of the league. Yes, they are threatening to be cut adrift. Yes, they are leaking goals with alarming regularity – they are on course for near to 100. But they have just been promoted twice in a row. If Southampton had not won promotion last season, they would still have experienced a great season and it is highly unlikely Adkins would currently be under pressure.
Because they are now in the ‘promised land’, Southampton feel edgy about losing their place there. So this is essentially the prospect of Adkins paying the price for success. It seems ridiculous, frankly, that a manager who has won two promotions in a row is on the brink of losing his job barely three months into the new season. Adkins should, really, not be in danger of losing his job at all for at least this season, if that, unless Southampton experience a dramatic turn in fortunes for the negative. But they are not. Sure, 10 games in they are the weakest team in the league. But seasons are not decided over 10 games. As good as West Brom are, it is highly unlikely they will finish fifth. Not impossible, but improbable.
One of the biggest problems for Southampton is the amount of money they spent this summer. Bringing in Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez for big money placed more pressure on Adkins. It meant they had invested in survival in a way Swansea and Norwich did not last year. That in turn has the result of turning up the pressure as it means that Southampton need to see a return on their investment. They are not yet, but that of course is surely impatience talking.
It may have been wise to have spent some money on defensive reinforcements, and there is January to do that still. But Southampton have shown, in defeats to Man City and Man Utd, that they can be competitive. They thrashed Aston Villa and look like scoring. They have been quite unfortunate, in that they had that incredibly hard start to the season. Already they have faced Arsenal and Tottenham as well, and all of this has the effect of placing incredible pressure on them to get results in those games, which are of course games which they are not expected to get anything from, just to look competitive. As it is, confidence has ebbed away as they have experienced defeat after defeat. And the only game Southampton can really be expected to have done better in than they did was against Wigan at home, but even they are an excellent team. Southampton have come from League One in two years and are in a very competitive league. Sides in the bottom half of the table are high quality. Liverpool only finished eighth last season.
All this considered, it is only fair for Adkins to be given time, and plenty of it, to turn Southampton’s fortunes around. As much as they may look relegation favourites right now, he has earned the right to have a proper crack at keeping them up. Worse managers at teams elsewhere in the table have been given more time despite doing less for their sides. It would be a travesty if Adkins is to lose his job, particularly before this weekend.