Daniel Gregory’s column: Adkins sacking epitomises the sad state of the beautiful game

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“Whilst we acknowledge 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,” read a statement made by Southampton Football Club today.

What a ludicrous statement.

File photo dated 12/01/2013 of Southampton manager Nigel Adkins. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2013. Southampton have confirmed that Nigel Adkins has been sacked as manager with Mauricio Pochettino appointed as their new boss. See PA Story SOCCER Southampton. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.

File photo dated 12/01/2013 of Southampton manager Nigel Adkins. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2013. Southampton have confirmed that Nigel Adkins has been sacked as manager with Mauricio Pochettino appointed as their new boss. See PA Story SOCCER Southampton. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.

Southampton were a popular club on the up with a bright, young squad and an English manager quickly gaining the respect of football fans and pundits alike - until this morning.

Now they are a laughing stock after sacking a man who literally could have done nothing more during his tenure at the St Mary’s club.

There are some shocking sackings in the modern game, we all know this. Roberto Di Matteo and Chris Hughton spring to mind, but this one literally tops them all in terms of its ludicrous nature and bizarre rationale.

Adkins had the best win percentage of any manager in the history of the club, and had carried them a massive 48 league places during two promotions in just 26 months at the helm.

Southampton's manager Nigel Adkins (left) shakes hands with Morgan Schneiderlin after the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 16, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Southampton's manager Nigel Adkins (left) shakes hands with Morgan Schneiderlin after the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 16, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Now, if Southampton had sacked him a matter of weeks ago there would have been a quieter outburst to news of his dismissal.

It would still have been harsh in my opinion, but Southampton’s form was poor and they looked likely to be right in the mix for relegation back to the Championship.

Their defence was showing a lack of experience and looked vulnerable and their goalkeeping issues were well known, but what did they expect?

Two defeats from the last 12 games and the superb second-half turnaround at Stamford Bridge to get a 2-2 draw should surely have made the man as untouchable as Sir Alex Ferguson.

Southampton's Jason Puncheon (42) scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 16, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Southampton's Jason Puncheon (42) scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 16, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

This sacking is a sad indictment of a game that has totally lost its sense of loyalty.

Do these clubs who sack their managers at the drop of a hat not look at the model shown by Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton?

Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes have been given the time to mould their clubs and work with their players to ensure the best possible results.

All three could have been sacked at points of their respective tenures. Moyes had a terrible season shortly after being appointed at Goodison Park and the club almost got relegated.

Football fans know Ferguson was perilously close to losing his job until a certain Mark Robins netted a late goal in the FA Cup third round against Nottingham Forest to save his bacon and they have never looked back.

Ferguson himself said: “It is a crazy world. It is hard to believe. There is no point saying we are surprised. It seems very unfair.”

Adkins must have been left wondering what more he could have done as he cleared his desk in shock this morning.

But it comes back to English clubs under foreign ownership believing the myth that continental coaches are somehow better than their British counterparts.

Adkins’ record speaks for itself.

He started his managerial career with two consecutive league titles as player-manager at Bangor City before taking a job as a physio at League One Scunthorpe United.

After Brian Laws departed the Glanford Park and following a successful stint as caretaker boss, Adkins was given the job on a permanent basis and proceeded to guide the club to the title and promotion to the second tier of English football, a feat the club hadn’t achieved in 40 years.

They were relegated the following season, but returned again at the first time of asking and at the second attempt, Adkins kept Scunthorpe in the Championship.

This is when Southampton, languishing in League One, came knocking.

Smashing club record after club record, Adkins guided the Saints to two consecutive promotions and at the end of his tenure this morning, the club were sat in 15th in the Premier League, ahead of clubs with much higher expectations like Newcastle United and Aston Villa.

Adkins’ record really does speak for itself. Despite managing in two relegation battles at Scunthorpe (and a half if you include this season at Southampton) his win percentage and stats are brilliant.

ADKINS’ MANAGERIAL RECORD:

Bangor City: (93-96) P:116 W:74 D:18 L:24 WIN %:63.79

Scunthorpe United: (06-10) P:199 W:83 D:44 L:72 WIN %:41.71

Southampton: (10-13) P:124 W:67 D:25 L:32 WIN %:54.03

CAREER TOTAL: P:439 W:224 D:87 L:128 WIN %:51.03

A further Southampton statement today read: “Pochettino has earned a reputation as one of the most talented young coaches in European football thanks to an impressive spell in La Liga with Espanyol.

“This decision has been made with the long-term ambitions of Southampton Football Club in mind.

“Mauricio is a well-respected coach of substantial quality who has gained a reputation as an astute tactician and excellent man manager.”

Now if you compare the two men, there is statistically only one winner. You’ll be staggered to hear that man is the one collecting his P45 and joining the long list of British managers out of work.

In his only managerial post to date, the Argentinian was relieved of his duties at Spanish top flight club Espanyol after losing 70 of his 161 games in charge.

The club were rock-bottom of La Liga when he was sacked in November last year, and this is his first job since.

You make your own mind up, but the stats stack up against today’s decision.

Adkins was all set to guide the club from League One to Premier League survival, what more can you ask of a manager?

Baffling decision, but the worst part of it all is that it is not as surprising as it should be.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Tweet me @mrdanielgregory Email me: daniel.gregory@jpress.co.uk