Pochettino appointment an almighty risk

Having fired Alan Pardew to bring in Nigel Adkins, the club won successive promotions and were doing brilliantly in the Premier League on their return. This was a hugely impressive transition season. A team playing neat attractive football with young players coming through, English ones at that, with a sprinkling of stardust with the signing of Gaston Ramirez in the summer. Not crazy spending, but serious investment.

The crazy thing was the timing of Adkins’ departure. How can a manager who did what he did deserve to be fired just days after a 2-2 draw at Chelsea, arguably the highlight of the campaign so far, and of recent years, for the Saints? In one sense, if he was going to be fired anyway, as it seems he was, it is good for Adkins that he was sent packing with his reputation at its highest point. Maybe that was part of the deal when he and Cortese had talks before the end of 2012. And he is hardly going to be short on change or a job in the future. But it is impossible to overlook a simply fantastic and remarkable job that Adkins had done at St Mary’s.

Cortese’s removal of Adkins was ruthless though. There was barely a mention of his contribution in the announcement of Pochettino’s appointment. Adkins didn’t seem to know of the news before it was already in the press. Hardly the most dignified way to do business, it seems.

At least the fans had some class. Paying fulsome and deserved tribute to their former coach as Pochettino took charge of his first game, they also gave the new man a proper welcome. Whilst you can question the timing, the transition has been very smoothly done. And there is a lot to suggest this is a team on the up.

Pochettino may have just been fired by Espanyol after taking them to the bottom of La Liga earlier this season, but the Argentine comes with a good reputation. He did good things at Espanyol, and by all accounts their demise has not really been down to him or his own decisions. A disciple of countryman Marcelo Bielsa in football style, he will have the club playing attractive, quick passing football, pressing high and pushing their opponents into their own half. It should be fascinating tactically to witness the Saints’ transition, although in fairness Adkins already had them playing good football.

So it is certainly a strange appointment. And there is little doubt that Adkins deserved better. Yet Southampton seem destined to win long term in any case. These are good times to be a fan at St Mary’s.