Southampton have sacked manager Nigel Adkins. The most unjust managerial sacking I’ve come across since Sheffield Wednesday fired Derek Dooley on Christmas Eve 1973.
I’m far from alone in thinking the sacking of Nigel Adkins is despicable.
As a player Dooley had literally given a leg in service of Sheffield Wednesday. So that, coupled with the timing of his dismissal, will always be top of the ‘worst sacking’ chart for me.
But there have been quite a few candidates in more recent footballing times.
The foreigners who run Southampton football club have been wanting to sack the respectable Adkins for some time.
Don’t take my word for it. Read the telling words of his replacement, the Argentina born former manager of struggling La Liga club, Espanyol. One Mauricio Pochettino.
At his press conference, held within hours (or was it minutes?) of Adkins leaving, Pochettino spoke through an interpreter: “I know about the Southampton squad because I’ve been researching them for several weeks.”
Note those words. Several weeks.
So are the numpties running Southampton the latest example of impatient, ignorant foreign owners?
What is clear is that they had their new man waiting in the wings for weeks. Hoping, no doubt, that results would get worse, not better, under the man who took Southampton from League 1 strugglers to 15th place in the Premier League, following two successive promotions.
How disappointed these people must have been when a gutsy Southampton side, inspired by the excellent man manager Adkins, came back from trailing two nil at Chelsea this week to get a valuable point. That followed their win against Aston Villa.
Until today I was of the belief that Adkins would keep Southampton up. Yes, they leaked goals. But, crucially to my mind, they also scored plenty of goals. If you don’t score goals, you go down. But with Ricky Lambert a reliable goalscorer, the Saints were marching up the table.
Those in the game now, or with close ties to the Saints, expressed their dismay at this change of manager.
Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier said: “It’s a strange time of the season, they’ve lost two of the last 12 games and came from 2-0 down to draw at Chelsea. It seems to be the way the club’s being run under the Chairman. Nothing is surprising and it’s a bit of a laughing stock.”
And long serving Manchester Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson agreed: “There’s no point in saying I’m surprised, this is a crazy footballing world we live in. But this is very unfair.”
No doubt we shall now see an influx of average La Liga players flying into Southampton. Like their manager, unable to communicate directly with their colleagues.
As some of you know, I have sung the praises of the technical ability in La Liga for many years. Long before it became fashionable to do so. I am also not someone who says the Premier League is the best in the world. It is, though, the most exciting.
The quality of the football at the foot of La Liga is poorer than that played at the foot of the Premier League. When people talk about La Liga, too many think of the great Barcelona side. Or some of the talented indivduals who ply their trade with Real Madrid.
But in the last ten years I have seen the teams who in any one season find themselves in the lower third of La Liga. In recent times that includes teams such as Espanyol and my local club Granada CF.
Clubs who, as I write, sit fifth and fourth from bottom of La Liga. I tell you now that I would rather watch the likes of Reading, Newcastle and Southampton than Espanyol and Granada any day of the week.
Why do so many of those who run football clubs think that hiring a foreign coach is a better bet than a home grown one? Someone who came up through the game, like former Scunthorpe United physio Nigel Adkins.
I don’t often agree with David Pleat but I did the night I heard him say: “Club chairman and owners are obsessed with foreign managers as though, somehow, they are better at their job just through being from overseas. I don’t understand their thinking.”
Spanish football correspondents have already come out in defence of Mauricio Pochettino.
But my argument is not with him.
It is with those foolhardy folk who run Southampton football club.
I feel for the players who respected Adkins and enjoyed working under him. And for the Saints fans who were quick to express their utter contempt at this decision.
Could this change of management lead to Southampton becoming another basket case of a club such as former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers?
Will the club go the same way as Sheffield Wednesday?
A club whose one time Chairman, the village idiot David Richards (latterly Sir David Richards of the F.A.), stupidly sacked Trevor Francis as manager because they were “only 12th” in the Premier League. And Francis had taken the Owls to two Cup finals in 1993.
Does this inexplicable change in management, coming at this crucial stage of the season and when results were improving, make it more or less likely that Southampton will be relegated?
To your mind, is this the most unjustified sacking ever?
Let me know your thoughts. Have your say below.