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Saints' shortcomings are obvious to all

Southampton v Swansea City, 3pm

icon adkins10 November ~ Southampton manager Nigel Adkins finds himself in unfamiliar territory. He's in the Premier League, having previously alternated between League One and the Championship, his team is losing a lot of football matches and he is being talked about as an imminent managerial casualty. Of Saints' four remaining November fixtures three are at St Mary's and the other is against a team that has won as few points as they have. If by the end of the month they have not added significantly to their total, it is difficult to see Adkins remaining in charge.

The run begins against Swansea, whose success last season gave rise to optimism that Saints' free-flowing, passing game would lead to a seamless adaptation to the Premier League. Yet even as the team secured a second successive promotion, warning signs were apparent. The penchant for conceding sloppy goals had never been eradicated and supporters could see that changes in personnel, if not style, would be needed if Saints were not to surrender their newly won status.

Day after day during the close season we checked websites for news of new signings to bolster the defence, which turned out to be conspicuous only by their absence. Dutch defender Alexander Buttner was reported to have signed but ended up at Manchester United. The excellent but inexperienced Nathaniel Clyne arrived from Crystal Palace, while the only centre-back recruited was Japanese international Maya Yoshida from Dutch outfit Venlo, after the season had begun. The failure to bring in some seasoned campaigners with Premier League know-how to the defence is proving costly now.

The shortcomings of some of the players are clearly contributing to the situation but so are the tactics. Playing a passing game is fine as long as the ball is kept, or quickly retrieved when lost. Unfortunately, Saints give the ball away too often and put themselves in trouble. It would be easy to conclude that this is down to the manager. However the chairman has also made clear – in one of his rare public statements – that he wants the team to be playing in a particular way, a way that "will become known as the Southampton style".

Nigel Adkins has not become a bad manager. He has a thirst for knowledge, works very hard and has earned the right to manage in the Premier League. He has the support of the fans and, as far as anybody can tell, the chairman.  They share the same long-term vision – but the immediate priority must be to get points on the board, if necessary by grinding out results and winning ugly. Tim Springett

On the subject...

Comment on 10-11-2012 09:23:50 by ian.64 #731074
Trouble is whether Adkins will be flexible enough to ditch his own style and go for a more basic and uglier approach. West Brom had the principle-led Tony Mowbray in his tenure, and those grand designs of a footballing style modelled on Barca and Real Madrid at their height were spared little or no respect on the field when Albion were around the Premiership trapdoor, looking up at teams whose own strength, physicality and no-nonsense endeavour were looked upon with contempt by the Guardiola of the Baggies, who remained faithful to the ethos of the kind of football that looked great when pinging the ball around midfield, but went for nothing when you were being stuffed every week. All the best to Adkins, though.

And I'm very wary of the Saints' chairman's 'Southampton style' remarks, as I am whenever I hear anyone in football who sticks a label on a universal way of playing football and appropriates to make it sound as if it belonged to their club.
Comment on 12-11-2012 09:41:36 by RobW #731461
How many keepers have they used in the first dozen games this season? Is it 3 or 4? Whilst they've each been culpable, it's time that one of them was given the no. 1 shirt.
Comment on 12-11-2012 10:51:24 by GerryForrest #731475
From where I’m standing Adkins' sacking has an air of inevitability about it.

I'm struggling to see how Saints will get any points at Loftus Road this Saturday.

No doubt Mark Hughes will go for a no-nonsense, pragmatic approach, while Saints will continue with passing out from the back with defenders who have too many mistakes in them.

I hope I’m wrong though, as Adkins seems like a good sort – he doesn’t use the post-match interview as a platform to air his grievances.
Comment on 12-11-2012 14:31:53 by Worm #731549
From a distance it looks like a classic case of a capable manager who overachieves to get promotion but can't perform miracles afterwards. Unless Southampton have a pot of cash that isn't being spent then they probably have one of the smallest budgets in the league, so what can they realistically expect?
Comment on 12-11-2012 15:33:01 by That Night In Barcelona #731583
Worm wrote:
From a distance it looks like a classic case of a capable manager who overachieves to get promotion but can't perform miracles afterwards. Unless Southampton have a pot of cash that isn't being spent then they probably have one of the smallest budgets in the league, so what can they realistically expect?

They spent £25 million in the summer. Trouble is, it went on strikers and attackers, with only Boruc (keeper) on a free and Yoshida (£2.5m) spent on the defence.

Supposedly the transfers come under the purview of the chairman and Les Reed who has some sort development role at the club, so based on this it seems that Adkins is paying for a summer of very imbalanced investment.
Comment on 13-11-2012 12:19:44 by mistrollingin #731856
I really hope that Adkins is not sacked, even though I acknowledge that it is easier to be sentimental when it is not your club involved.
He has taken Southampton a long way in a short space of time and given them access to the increased revenues of the PL, even if that ends up being through parachute payments.
Avoiding relegation should not be the be all and end all that it has become and panicking at a setback could be disastrous.

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