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The Adkins diet gets Saints in shape

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Paul Fletcher | 06:43 UK time, Monday, 12 September 2011

A year since he became manager of Southampton, Nigel Adkins can be pleased with what he has achieved since succeeding Alan Pardew at St Mary's.

In the past 12 months, Adkins has guided Saints to promotion from League One, enjoyed a successful summer in the transfer market (the club pocketed £12m from Arsenal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while buying the likes of full-back Danny Fox from Burnley and Jack Cork from Chelsea) and overseen a strong start to the Championship season.

But perhaps his biggest achievement, possibly even the secret of his success, has been to build a winning culture at a club where it was questionable whether everyone was pulling in the same direction.

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins.

Adkins has proved to be a steady and reliable figure at Southampton. Photo: Getty Images

"I often use the phrase 'together as one' and that is what we are," the 46-year-old Adkins told me. "We are a club that is united. "A club is about its people and we are trying to give everyone the opportunity to be best they can be. We have a very honest and hardworking group of players and staff. Everyone is very ambitious and we are building a culture and an environment where people can work hard."

Saints dismissed Pardew just three games into last season's League One campaign following a 4-0 thumping of Bristol Rovers. At first glance, the timing of the sacking appeared ludicrous, not least because it came at the end of a transfer window during which he had signed the likes of Ryan Dickson, Frazer Richardson, Danny Butterfield and Guiherme do Prado.

It was suggested Pardew's departure was because of a strained relationship not only with a large number of the club's coaching staff but also with chairman Nicola Cortese, who, I understand, wanted a manager whose perspective extended beyond the first team.

Many Saints supporters were initially unhappy with the decision to sack Pardew, who is now in charge of Premier League Newcastle. Some felt it was a rash decision by Cortese, a man who has not always enjoyed a smooth relationship with the club's fanbase.

But if Cortese, a former Swiss banker, was looking for a man with a grasp of modern management techniques to try to build and foster a winning culture, he certainly picked the right one in Adkins. The Birkenhead-born Saints boss sometimes sounds like he has swallowed a middle-management text book and is a world away from the old-school flying-teacups approach adopted by many running football clubs.

Adkins was brought in from Scunthorpe, where he had been the physiotherapist before his elevation to the role of manager in 2006. In his time in charge at Glanford Park, he oversaw promotion from League One twice but also failed to prevent relegation from the Championship in 2008.

Saints lost their opening fixture under Adkins - a 2-0 defeat at MK Dons that left the team in the bottom four - but they won their final six games of last season to clinch automatic promotion. They did it playing a brand of fast, skilful and attacking football that sat comfortably with supporters used to watching the likes of Matthew Le Tissier.

Southampton won their first four games of the current Championship season, including a 5-2 thrashing of Ipswich at Portman Road, although by that stage the doubters had long since been silenced. Saints are second in the table after Saturday's 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest.

I am told that Southampton's unquestionably talented squad, which boasts players such as Adam Lallana, Jose Fonte, Lee Barnard and Rickie Lambert, have benefitted from their manager's even temperament and analytical approach.

He believes in studying every match with his players in order to help them improve. He compiles a post-game report that is made up of five positives and one negative. He will use a video display and then discuss his thoughts with the squad. When this is done, he draws a blue line under the name of the opponent on his whiteboard and starts preparing for the next fixture.

He told me he still draws upon some of the lessons he learned during his first managerial role, in the early 1980s, as boss of Birkenhead Sunday League Division Five club Renbad Rovers. Adkins was a player at Tranmere but had already started to think about life beyond his playing career.

Renbad won promotion all the way to the Premier Division under Adkins, who went on to win back-to-back titles at League of Wales side Bangor City in the mid-1990s before he left to become Scunthorpe's physio, a role he occupied for a decade before his return to management.

Optimism is growing in a certain corner of the south coast that Adkins could perhaps add another promotion to his CV in May. But he knows it will be difficult.

"This season is going to be so tough for everybody and there are probably about 15 or 16 teams who believe they have got a chance of promotion," said Adkins.

"We are one of them. The staff at the club have got to keep pushing the squad as hard as they can. We have got to push them, pull them, carry them, drive them on - and we have got to do it together."

Cortese set out a five-year plan when he took over at Saints to transform the club from a third-tier outfit struggling to fulfil its potential to a side back in the top flight for the first time since their relegation from the Premier League in 2005.

Adkins is not planning any celebrations to mark his first year in charge - he did not even realise the anniversary of his appointment was imminent until someone pointed it out to him last week - but if Saints do win promotion again the champagne corks are sure to start flying.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    21 wins and a draw from 24 games, 12 consecutive home wins, best start for 76 years, 11 consecutive wins - the club records keep tumbling under Adkins. And all done by playing attractive football and developing a stable base with the likes of Lallana and Lambert on extended contracts. The Saints are on their way back to the Premiership and have the infrastructure and support and financial backing to stay there. In Nicola and Nigel we trust!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    After some very dark days in the last 5 years, the last year has been superb under Nigel Adkins. His positivity is infectious and the whole club feels positive as a result.

    There's now a real buzz going along to games at St Mary's, only a few years before it was like visiting a dying relative.

  • Comment number 4.

    Are You Keeping Up?

  • Comment number 5.

    Great article here Paul. I, for one, have never been so positive about a Southampton set-up in my life. We have a fantastic manager that leaves no stone unturned, a great board and chairman who only does and wants the best for the club, a magnificent squad of players in which we could pick two different elevens and still get decent results and they are all pulling in the same direction, a loyal and positive group of fans who believe what is going on at St.Mary's and attendances are shooting up of late, we have the infrastructure in which a new training ground is in the process of being built and finally a great youth set-up which is the envy of others. They are building a healthy link between the academy and the first team and that can only be good for the club.

    All of these ingredients seem to make up a successful, winning club. We have a fantastic winning mentality at the club and never get too high after a win and equally too low when we lose.

    All of this points to Promotion... we hope!

  • Comment number 6.

    We are playing a brand of football that I've not seen us play since the days of a young Le Tiss, Shearer and Wallace.

    At times it's simply breathtaking to watch us go forward.

    The skates are nowhere and we are on the rise.

    As for BHA, meh, you're not important to us.

  • Comment number 7.

    Not strictly a Saints fan as I don't attend the matches but frequently listen to the matches on Solent and the commentators are full of praise for the way Southampton play! The least I expect from Southampton is a place in the top six and if the defence can be improved, automatic promotion as SFC have a team as good as any in the division!

  • Comment number 8.

    Brilliant to see us playing attractive football and agree with ChocolateBoxKid as a long time season ticket holder I am now going into every match with optimism and am confident when we take the lead that we can defend it which has been a problem pre NA. I think that with NA we have a winning mentality and a squad which understand each other which NA has created through not bringing in uneeded signings. I do however worry that now it appears Seaborne after that disgraceful attack is out for the season with one or two injuries we may become a little thin at the back. That being said the signing of Hooiveld may prove to be an absolute gem. I think as the plan for this season was initially consolidation we should not expect an automatic promotion but if we continue like this anything is possible as we have a great team which is well bonded and now we have the added incentive of a get well soon present for Seaborne of playing in the Premiership. In Nicola and Nigel we trust!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Best side in the division by a mile however key is lallana as with chaimberlin going there is a severe lack of strength and talent to play on the wing if he should get injured. Other main concern is dogdy keeper Davis nearly gave it away saturday and will cost us more points than he gains. But should finish either 1st or 2nd with west ham.

  • Comment number 10.

    another good blog paul. leicester fan here, we beat the saints a few weeks ago but to be honest we didnt deserve too. 1 of our goals should of been disallowed for a foul and only kasper kept us in front with some good saves. i was very impressed with southampton and think they will be in the top 6 come may. i think they only need to look at how well swansea, ourselves and norwich did after promotion from league 1 to be confident.

  • Comment number 11.

    Adkins a future England Manager? There, I've said it.

  • Comment number 12.

    5 wins out of 6, and Leicester know how lucky they are to have got anything from that game, let alone three points.

    The strange thing is, we could be even better. We only have two fit out-and-out strikers - a pacy loan signing would be good to come off the bench or to give one of them a rest. And an even better right-back (Richardson isn't great and Adkins obviously doesn't rate Butterfield) on loan would complete our squad, in my opinion.

    PS. Can't wait to turn Brighton over like we did last season. We're keeping up, don't worry!

  • Comment number 13.

    Don't agree about Kelvin Davis and quite the opposite to "thatsolney's" statement about him costing us points, his stunning save early into the 2nd half when Forest were on top, probably earned us points.

    Regarding the wing, Saints have De Ridder and Lee Holmes in back up to Lallana and Guly, which are pretty good options in my book.

  • Comment number 14.

    Davis is a quality keeper at NPC level.

    Lallana is beyond outstanding.

  • Comment number 15.

    Awful title!

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks Paul; another great blog.
    I hope Leicester, West Ham, Brighton, Derby and Forest can take more of the limelight, to leave Nigel Adkins to quietly continue his fine work (keeping Lallana was our most important piece of business in the transfer window).

    I remember you were struck by Nicola Cortese previously (link below from Sep 09). It looks like his vision is beginning to bear fruit and Saints fans coming round to him.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulfletcher/2009/09/back_from_the_brink_southampto.html

  • Comment number 17.

    Now then - many thanks for your thoughts so far.

    swemania (post 11) - do you really see Adkins running the England team one day? That would make a great story.

    Saints fans - and Championship fans in general - can you see the club winning promotion this season? Is there enough quality in depth? Wil there be money to spend in January?

    Norwich showed last year what a club with momentum can achieve. I wasn't sure they would last the distance, but they did.

  • Comment number 18.

    The Norwich back to back promotions was the exception not the rule. However teams tough enough to be promoted from League 1, who have kept their squad in tact, have generally fared well in the Championship.
    From pre-season the strength on the Southampton bench was evident; looks like we will be reasonably equipped to cope with injuries and suspensions, along with all the back to back fixtures.

    Like so many teams in the Championship, our expectation is upper-mid table, but with a fair run of results (and luck; perhaps as NF at the w/e) we *might* challenge for the play-offs. It's been a good start, but it is only that; a good start.

    COYR

  • Comment number 19.

    @ Paul.

    At the start of the season I had a wager on Boro & WHU to go up and I still feel that they will BUT Saints certainly can do it and as long as we continue to play the type of football we are doing then the 340mile round trip will be worth it!

  • Comment number 20.

    It would fantastic to get promotion, of course, but if we don't, it doesn't REALLY matter... I think being fairly successful whilst playing great football is sufficient enough, any further success should be seen as a bonus, rather than no promotion being a failure. A few fans started grumbling when we went 1-0 to Forest - talk about fickle and showing a lack of faith!

    Another good trait in Adkins is that he does seem to have a sense of loyalty, something sorely lacking in today's game. Perhaps I will proved wrong if a 'bigger' club came in, but he actually did the right thing by Scnthorpe, in that he wouldn't join Southampton unless we gave Scunny a good deal. Most managers would have jumped ship and left the former club in the lurch without too much hesitation.

    Nice to see a manager working his way up and having a few qualifications to go with it. There's still far too many "jobs for the boys" in football, and too many teams suffer for the view that good player = good manager.

  • Comment number 21.

    Cortese (best chaiman in English football) and Adkins have formed a formidable partnership. Under Adkins games where Saints would lose or draw they now winning. There is an aura of belief and positivity that surrounds the club which no one who sees themselves as a Saint seems to be immune to. Also the team seems to be the fittest Saints team for years and have one of the best and the most underrated midfields in the championship.

    For me the promotion push began with defeat at home to Brentford. No excuses were made and the players were told exactly what was expected of them. After that only Manchester United, Tranmere, Walsall, Rochdale and Leicester have beaten Saints in 37 games in all competitions.

    I can't see promotion this season but in or around the playoffs is entirely feasible though i'm not sure what Cortese has decided. What he wants he seems to get.

    One negative point. As happy I am with Adkins getting the credit he deserves, I wish this blog wasn't written because after supporting the saints for nearly 25 years I have learnt things always start to go badly for saints whenever they are in the limelight. I was quite happy to see saints slip quietly under the radar on their way to success. Sorry.

  • Comment number 22.

    Skate in peace.
    This time last year I wrote in to say that sacking Pardew would, imo, cost the scummers their best chance of Championship football. Time to man up about that one. Hopefully I'll put the mockers on 'em by predicting Prem football for them next season. Not sure if they'll end up with the south coast bragging rights, Brighton won't be a soft touch, but I have to say they're playing some terrific football and if they can keep it up they'll fully deserve a crack at the top flight. I can certainly see a decent run in the cups, there's a number of Premiership teams won't fancy a tie at St Mary's. Enjoy your season scummers, I hope you make the best of it. There's no rancour from here.

  • Comment number 23.

    The beauty of being a Saints fan is that they have never been a "mid table mediocrity" side! We're either going up or down.....so much more fun than supporting an Aston Villa or Everton. It's great to see some promotional aspiration, but it's a long old season in a very competitive league. I love it....

  • Comment number 24.

    As a Scunny fan this article amuses me. A year ago when Adkins was mentioned most Southampton fans were dismayed and wanted a plethora of famous names from Keegan upwards.
    How they have to eat their words now!

    PS: can we have him back?

  • Comment number 25.

    @ Flopper.

    Some of us were chuffed to bits with his appointment! Only the kids and hard of thinking actually believed they'd get "a big name" manager.

  • Comment number 26.

    Amen to what Flopper said, i remember very well the reaction from a large number of Saints fan at the time- one in particular, which summed up the prevailing attitude rather well, was "A little man from a little club". It certainly wasn't all fans, and it was mixed up with the anger/confusion from the nature of Pardew's sacking, but if it was only the kids and the stupid, then you have quite a few of them don't you? Good blog, great manager.

  • Comment number 27.

    @ 26. Yes mate, we have plenty of them. Many local villages are minus their idiot on match days!

  • Comment number 28.

    Why after such a promising start in the League of Wales did he go and be a physio for 10 years?

    Whatever happens, this will be Nigel Adkins last season as a manager in The Championship.

  • Comment number 29.

    I've just got one question for Adkins...ARE WE KEEPING UP YET?

    SEAGULLS!

  • Comment number 30.

    @24 and @26. I think you are wrongly tarring the Saints fans with the same brush there. I must admit, when I first heard his name being bandied about as a possibility I was skeptical but by the time he was appointed I was delighted because he achieved miracles at Scunny on such a tight budget. I, for one, was happy with his appointment as were, I believe about 70% of saints fans. If you'd heard at our first game at MK Dons, we were singing Nigel Adkins name throughout even though we lost the game. We were fully behind him. It was only a small (deluded) minority who weren't happy because they felt we could get Managers such as Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer or Alan Curbishley. But the matter of the fact is, we got Nigel Adkins, he has proven himself at Scunthorpe and most definitely Southampton and as Paul says, he has long silenced any doubters with his style and panache. The results have been excellent and there is a positivity around not just the club, but the whole city, that hasn't been felt since the Strachan era. Great manager, great tactician, just great everything and I would personally agree with @11 when he says that he will be future England manager. He just will be, he has everything the FA is looking for and my only worry about having him as manager is that another club or even England could snatch him from us if we weren't to be promoted within two years. Best manager we've had for ages!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    it is a bit of an eye opener that the two top teams from League 1 last season are currently leading the way in the championship. NIgel Adkins is awesome and saints are very entertaining to watch with lots of goals and free flowing football and have the best playmaker in the division in lallana. I wouldnt say that about Brighton though.

    Adkins and Gus Poyet had a bit of a fall out last season didnt they, Gus Poyet is clearly a bit insecure and got really wound up by Adkins which is pretty amusing when you consider what a great guy Nigel clearly is. Gus Poyet has organised Brighton in a way that makes them a very stubborn team, difficult to score against but really boring to watch, totally negative style of football that will claw out 1 - 0 wins with their direct bland style. I'd hate to watch that week in week out. I think Adkins will get the last laugh this season. Pressure makes diamonds.

  • Comment number 32.

    @29. A that's why you'll always be small time. The inability to accept a tongue in cheek statement for being just that.

    Still, your lot looked like utter muppets at the Withdean, giving him stick and then we turn you over on your "hate Adkins day".

  • Comment number 33.

    of course, its a lot easier when you can blow most other clubs out of the water in terms of transfer fees and wages.

    no denying adkins is a decent manager, but the main driver behind saints recent success is the cash.

    they're just another tedious moneybags club buying their way out of the division.

  • Comment number 34.

    ... thats nonsense. With the exception of one or two acquisitions over the summer our team is pretty much the same as the one we had last year. Our best player came through the academy (lallana), we paid about £1.5m for lambert from Bristol City, very prudent spending. We've actually had more transfer money come into the club in the last few years (chamberlain going to arsenal), than we've spent directly on players.

    There's a big difference between being a well run club with decent support thats growing at a steady pace and your bitter notional idea of a spoilt football club.

  • Comment number 35.

    @32. Just a bit of friendly banter from your south coast rivals mate, unlike the vile homophobia that was coming back from some of your lot on 'the argus' website.

    I'm sure if we still had something to play for then we would've beaten you.

    @31. I if you to have the pleasure of watching Brighton a bit more then you would realise that we are anything but boring. A boring team would not include players like Craig Noone, Kazenga Lua Lua, Ryan Harley and Vicente Rodriguez. I'm a proud season ticket holder at the AMEX this season and have certainly not been bored for one single minute of three matches I have so far watched.

  • Comment number 36.

    11.At 13:48 12th Sep 2011, snewmania wrote:

    Adkins a future England Manager? There, I've said it.


    I hope not!! He's too good for the job!! Better leave it to a has-been like Harry!!

    I have no doubt that Nigel Adkins is an excellent manager! When he does leave SFC I hope it is to one of the top five teams!! If, for instance a Sunderland type were to come sniffing would he be bettering himself? Apart from managing a Premiership club, the Sunderlands of this world are unlikely to win anything in the foreseeable future! Better stay at SFC, get to the Premiership and then ......???

  • Comment number 37.

    you're paying jack cork around 25k a week.... thats a hell of a lot in the championship.

    i'm not bitter at all, you've actually done things the right way by paying your debts off, unlike portsmouth. you wouldn't be where you are without the money though and you'd have found it a lot harder to get out of league 1, for a start.

  • Comment number 38.

    23.At 17:17 12th Sep 2011, stbill wrote:
    The beauty of being a Saints fan is that they have never been a "mid table mediocrity" side! We're either going up or down.....so much more fun than supporting an Aston Villa or Everton. It's great to see some promotional aspiration, but it's a long old season in a very competitive league. I love it....

    Why pick on Villa and Everton as mediocrity?? They are great football clubs with wonderful traditions and have knowledgeable supporters unlike the plethora of fans who wear the blue shirt of a certain West London club that you see in the shopping centres of the South Coast towns and cities!!

  • Comment number 39.

    The comments from the poster @33 are way off the truth. If you want to go looking for moneybags, it's Leicester City. Even Ipswich have signed 12 players in the close season. That's why they don't know how to play. They don't know each other yet. Saints signed three players + one loan. And they made a lot of profit on the deals, by bringing in £12M+£3M add-ons from the Oxlade-Chamberlain deal. In fact, I believe they may have overturned their entire player expenditure, since relegation..! In the past couple of seasons, Saints have been quietly building with very good quality signings, because they simply had to. The quality and attitude of the squad, relegated to League One was terrible. True, the budget at Southampton FC isn't exactly tight, but the place is being run as a proper business, and there is an injection of funds when it is deemed prudent to do so - that is, it is cheaper to inject the funds earlier, rather than later. Around 50% of the money that is being spent at SFC is in the long term investment of the Academy, so that it will be the best in the UK. Not one of the best, but THE best. The inspiration is Barcelona. Not a bad role model. Southampton are back for keeps.

  • Comment number 40.

    Now Jack Cork is on 25K a week..? Where did this invention come from..?

  • Comment number 41.

    Paul,

    I do honestly believe that Adkins would make a great England manager. The style of play, man management skills and belief that he has created in the players at the club gives him a great platform to build from. As a former physio, his knowledge of around physical performance gives him a dimension that few other managers can boast of. His loyalty and principles should also be commended. Bear in mind, this is a guy who only left Scunthorpe when he was satisfied that the club had been properly compensated. Makes a significant difference to a certain Spurs manager....

    A bit premature perhaps, but certainly would give the England team a different perspective.

    ...and of course, he's English.

  • Comment number 42.

    @35. You did try really hard to beat us, and failed.

    BHA are welcome to their mithering, cheating style of play. Suits them.

  • Comment number 43.

    lol@ brighton...entertaining? come ans see what entertaining is...ita called LALLANA an he ain't joining the Saints fanclub @ Arsenal;

    @38 who said: "Why pick on Villa and Everton as mediocrity?? They are great football clubs with wonderful traditions and have knowledgeable supporters"

    These are th same supporters that ar protesting against a man who loves Everton then are they? You are holding us back, they say. Holding us back from bancruptcy? Holding us back from the foolishness of the other out of control clubs? If so then let those fans have what they want. It ain't pretty. We've been ther, we've seen it and Everton's knowledgable fans are welcome to it :)

    As for Mr Fletcher's question 'Is there enough money available for the January transfer window? Does that even matter? Do teams HAVE to spend big in the window to get promoted? Never saw that in the rules.

    Adkins and Cortese will spend in the transfer window only if they need to and only if they get the right players for the right prices. They are the best pairing in the leagues second only to Kenwright and Moyes who seem to be the only other pairing that are sensible, unfoolish, adept and astute.

    Everton will be fine and in ten years may well be laughing at those formerly above them now begging mercy from the banks and creditors!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    @43 - I only get to watch Southampton for about 30 seconds to a minute on the football league show and would therefore never be in a position to comment on your style of football, as I do not watch enough of your games. So how you feel you can do this about Brighton is beyond me.

    I wouldn't call 'you score 2 and we'll score 3' football entertaining, I'd call it nerve-wracking and if we're gonna be called boring just because we've kept so many clean sheets so far this season then so be it.

    @42 - how is it that we cheat? Please enlighten me.

  • Comment number 45.

    @44. Let's just say your "South American" ways are not reflected in your style of football.

  • Comment number 46.

    @45 - If the South Americans do not pass the ball around like we do then I do not want to be watching South American football!

  • Comment number 47.

    Can't understand why a few Saints fans are belittling Brighton! There's so much to admire about both clubs - their style of play, brilliant managers, good support, modern stadia and the fact both were promoted in style and are currently top of the division! Well done to both clubs!! I predict one of the two will gain automatic promotion and the other a place in the play-offs!!

  • Comment number 48.

    "@42 - how is it that we cheat? Please enlighten me."

    I sat behind the goal at the Withdean last season and watched Casper Ankergren's antics thinking I'd bought a panto ticket by mistake.

    After brushing against a Saints player in the box and spent the best part of five minutes rolling around with his eyes shut, he suddenly sprung to his feet, jogged back into his goal, wiped his hands on his towel, smiled at the Saints fans and winked.

    He'd already been timewasting at every given opportunity (at 1-0 up, typical negative Brighton), so needless to say he looked sick as a pig when we popped those two sweet finishes past him.

  • Comment number 49.

    Come on girls! Am I alone in wanting to see all of our South Coast derbies played out next season in the Premiership not the Championship?

    I'd rather support my own club, rather than putting antagonistic, snide remarks towards others. Gus Poyet has done an excellent job at Brighton on a considerably smaller budget than ours and should be lauded for this. (More exciting? 86 vs 85 goals scored last season; not really much to choose).
    @22 Atilla - good for you and good luck.
    Also for anyone questioning our support, our gates increased over the two seasons in League 1, even when we were rock bottom; only Norwich could match that.

  • Comment number 50.

    @48 - Was just a bit of gamesmanship! Although, I am glad it wound you up so much. Bring on November 19th...can't wait! It's my Dad's birthday and beating the saints will be the perfect present for him.

  • Comment number 51.

    "
    I sat behind the goal at the Withdean last season and watched Casper Ankergren's antics thinking I'd bought a panto ticket by mistake.

    After brushing against a Saints player in the box and spent the best part of five minutes rolling around with his eyes shut, he suddenly sprung to his feet, jogged back into his goal, wiped his hands on his towel, smiled at the Saints fans and winked. "

    You saw all that from the away end at Withdean?
    I'm not going to say you're making it up (although having seen our style of play described as direct and defensive it's clear that some Saints fans are no strangers to making up stories) but presumably you were watching with the aid of binoculars?

    Adkins seaosn long commentary on ourselves was understandable, he was clearly trying to put pressure on the leaders - it didn't have any effect, but you could see what he was trying to do. Still, I think we can be forgiven for giving him a bit of banter next time we saw the man.

    To the Saints fan who insecurely insists we were trying our hardest in that game, I don't knopw how often you watched Brighton last season but in all the games in the month or so after we secured the title we performed at a considerably lower level than I saw in the rest of the season - understandably. Why is it so important for you to believe otherwise?

  • Comment number 52.

    Put the handbags away Saints and Seagulls. Brighton haven't got where they are by accident, so hats off to them. Likewise, Saints are on a very special rollercoaster too. It would be wonderful if BOTH south coast teams could gain promotion, whether automatic or otherwise. I want to see some proper south coast presence in the Premiership, sooner rather than later, with teams that can get there; have the infrastructure and funds to stay there, and thrive. Of course, one of them has to be Saints. Another might as well be Brighton.

  • Comment number 53.

    @ 43 Seen them a few times, seent ehm play, heard Poyet's tunnel vision comments. need say no more. :)

    TBH before Poyet started opening his mouth without clicking the one brain cell into the on position I was quite happy for Brighton. He ruined that :)

    Made me wish I was back at Sincil Bank singing we love you Archer to the Brighton fans all that time ago :)

  • Comment number 54.

    The headline and the lede indicated there would be something in there about Adkins' diet and training methods, but I didn't see it in the story.

    What is he doing in that area that's so different? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ 53 - It wasn't so long ago that Saints had financial problems.

    Those in glass houses...

  • Comment number 57.

    Nigel Adkins is without a doubt becoming one of the best up and coming mangers in English football. However, the real credit for the Saints revival has to go to Nicola Cortese. He has quietly worked away on his & Markus Liebherr's vision, ignoring the sceptics and is building a club that in my opinion will challenge the money bag clubs in the future.

  • Comment number 58.

    @56 hence my last comment No 42. I said there about Everton. All I am saying is that I was quite happy for Brighton, pleasing to see them doing well being another South Coast team. Then plonkjer Poyet opened his mouth and ruined it all. Then the Brighton fans who seem to have no opinion of their own repeat what he said and respect lost.

    I wish Brighton well howver for Poyet to suggest they play beautiful football is pushing it. they are a physical side, play over the top a lot and either he says so what we are winning or he takes a specsavers test :)

    Saints have been there done that with financial ruin and much as other fickle modern day supporters think a board is bad for not spending silly money to keep up with those hugely debted top 4 I do not. I am quite happy for Saints to be wise, not spend over the odds and wait for those big 4 to get their come uppance when those who deal only with money decide they are bored and those banks who are only just being held off decide enough is enough.

    A little like Rangers at the moment where they are now at risk. Money it seems is more important than the football club, especially to those who have it and they will not throw it around forever :)

    So good luck to Brighton. I hope you are in the prem with us next year if we can both maintain our form this year. Early days and all that :) however please don't just repeat the words of Poyet. It isn't pretty football and after the last match he must've been getting confused which team was his to suggest that one played pretty football and lost whilst the other plays long ball and kick and rush yet won!!!

    Goog luck guys. lol

  • Comment number 59.

    sorry was 43 not 42

  • Comment number 60.

    Lallana is an oustanding player, but in the modern game money seems to buy top top positions. I like the idea of a transparent lingerie range to raise money and profile though.

  • Comment number 61.

    @58 - I don't need to repeat anybodies words. I'm a season ticket holder and can see for myself the attractive style of football we play.

  • Comment number 62.

    I haven't read all the posts but I can't see any mention of Markus Liebherr? Without him Southampton FC probably wouldn't exist. It's a pity he can't witness the success Saints are now enjoying.
    COYR!

  • Comment number 63.

    A great start by Saints, a bit nervy against Forest, I thought Corky had a stinker, both goals against were down to him. There is a lot of talk regarding promotion, if we carry on as we are and maybe get a couple of signings in January maybe just maybe.

    But, when we are in the Prem, how many players would be good enough to keep us there. Lallana, Fonte, Lambert maybe, Davis as a keeper yes but he is getting older, Conolly if he stays fit, then I am struggling.

    We will need to spend big to get quality and experience in otherwise we will be a yoyo. Any thoughts on nwho we could get and if any other squad players are good enough to keep us there.????

  • Comment number 64.

    Teams of gifted individuals need good management to achieve anything. Nigel has what a manager should have - a positive attitude, the ability to change a game, the ability to get the most out of his players and a willingness to embrace cutting edge techniques. He's a manager that never gives up and can bounce back from adversity (being relegated with a poor Scunthorpe side and bouncing straight back) and that endeared him to me from the start.

    Unless a top 4 club or England come in for him, I can see him having a long and fruitful career at Saints with the setup he has behind him.

  • Comment number 65.

    Southampton are really great to watch at the moment, they play lovely football and have a fantastic manager. I think they could easily get promoted this season.

    footballbanterforwomen.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 66.

    I find it quite amusing to read about how pissed off Southampton fans are that Brighton finished above them last season. Admit it, that's all it really boils down too.

  • Comment number 67.

    @66, to be honest, you're probably right for the large part. I have always really liked Brighton, and at the start of last season, I would have taken finishing second, regardless who finished first, and it was nice to have a fellow South Coast club to join the promotion party.

    However, all the time the outcome of the season was unclear, the nature of being a supporter means you can't help fall into the trap of being irked by anything positive (deserving or lucky) to the teams around you. By the end of last season, in my mind, Brighton, Huddersfield and Peterborough were the luckiest teams around, ha.

    The fact that Brighton have maintained their form is once again annoying to see, but only because they are competition for Southampton, not because they "don't deserve it" or because they are guilty of cheating, or have a host of despicable players.

    I haven't liked reading disparaging comments about Southampton by Brighton fans though, which is probably why my view of them has been tainted recently. But I suppose the reverse is true, many Saints fans say needlessly derogatory things about the Seagulls...

    Can't we all just get along? Or at least gang up on Portsmouth?

  • Comment number 68.

    As a life long Saints fan it's great to see them doing well & playing some fantastic football. In an ideal world I'd love to see Southampton, Brighton and Portsmouth promoted this season. It's about time the south coast had some decent representation in the Premiership and some cracking derby games to boot.

  • Comment number 69.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but when Southampton beat Brighton wasn't it in a match that was meaningless to Brighton inasmuch as they'd already gained promotion at that stage? When the result actually mattered to them at St Mary's, I see Brighton beat Southampton.

  • Comment number 70.

    Next Arsenal manager....

  • Comment number 71.

    @ 69 Yes, I'll correct you. Firstly Brighton did not beat us at SMS. Secondly I think you'll find that Gus Poyet wanted to get 100 points at the Withdean, or go unbeaten, but Saints prevented him doing so despte the usual 'Uruguayan' tactics deployed. Ankergren is your problem. He will make you many enemies. A mate of mine is a Seagulls supporter of many, many years who goes to all home and away games, and even he is embarrassed by him. He was up to his tricks again today at Leicester - true idiot!

  • Comment number 72.

    As Flopper said in post 24, all of us Scunny fans told you he was a great acquisition. Also as Flopper said, now that the year loan is over, we want him back again! Great manager and decent bloke to boot. He certainly has the potential to be a future English England manager.

    Well done Nige and good luck Saints.

  • Comment number 73.

    What I like about Adkins, apart from his obvious ability, is that he is one of the few in the profession that usually has a smile on his face.

  • Comment number 74.

    Dear BHA. Please at least try to keep up.

  • Comment number 75.

    I enjoyed the blog;it avoided the 'Motson' school of irrelevent info and stats!
    Why is it so many say things like "This is Wolves' (or whoevers)first win at so and so for 76 years when the two teams have only met 3 times in a century?! The Aldershot v Rochdale league cup preview comes with the classic gem that Rochdale have never lost a LC tie to a side in a lower league!!!!! Er....might have something to do with Rochdale being in the lowest league for 95% of their exsistence and not being able to lose to someone lower!!!
    A compilation of the most brain dead "stats and info" should be made!

  • Comment number 76.

    The trouble is with a big name manager they have normally been ousted (more than once) by a big name club.

    Saints Chairman obviously did his homework (and did it very well).

    Atkins was capable of being a successful manager. He gives loyality if loyalty is returned.

    What Southampton FC wanted was stabuility and a manager coach that players could respect and admire. Look at any sports,successful managers are not feared by their players, they are respected. Successful managers are part of the team, not apart from the team.

    Teams build success not individuals. Who better than building teams than Cloghie? He had the ability to keep players together. Those who thought they were stars but didn't fit into a team didn't last with Cloghie. Same with Atkins. Ox- Chamberlain keen to get away - Chairman and Atkins can build a whole team from £12 million. Is their "star player" missed?.................nope.

    This is what makes the Championship so much better to watch than the Premiership. You build teams in the Championship not buy them and thats what Saints have done over the past 15 months...long may it continue.

  • Comment number 77.

    I had to smile at the comments regarding Nigel's Management speak though!

    What i do know is that since he came into the building and got everyone onto the Bus, he's ensured that it becomes all about the squad of players and he never gets too high after a victory or too low after a defeat. He's following the Chairmans 5 year vision at a magnificent football club supported by magnificent fans.

    What I particularly like about him is that he never uses cliches!

    But he's doing a fantastic job!

  • Comment number 78.

    all im going to say is that Nigel is a great manager, he knows what he is doing, since he first started managing our club I knew he was who we needed. I live in leicester, but im saints through and through, I make the journeys to ST Marys almost every saturday that we play at home and I now enjoy every game because we work as a team, if we lose the ball we track back and defend. What I love the most is when we played nottingham forest and we went 1-0 down that the crowd sung as loud as they could to encourage us not to give up and we scored immediatly, thats what I want to see more of. I think that we will be in the top two at the end of the season, this is because we played birmingham (ex prem) and thrashed them, the only other team that looks threatening are west ham but they have lost good players aswell. Any nigel thumbs up from me especially now we are in the final 16 of the league cup haha come on you reds :)

  • Comment number 79.

    Did anyone hear dean hammonds comments on his new three year contract? he said he has loved every minute being with us and his family are happy staying in hampshire, this is what I love to hear.......commitment. I promise you now dean will see out his career with us just like davis will, davis turned down west ham for us. I just hope lallana does the same and doesn't go for money like chamberlin did. I would love to se the look on chamberlins face when southampton are back in premiership and lallana is running rings around him haha, bad choice chambo!!! up the saints :)

  • Comment number 80.

    Scunny fan hear what Nigel as done at Southampton does not suprise any of thye scunny fans he is a top top manager and i agree could be a future england manager he will definately get Southampton to the premiership. Scunny fans wanted to stay in the championship just to witness Nigels return to Glanford park unless we get drawn in a cup competition the feeling is that it will be a long time before we see our superstar physio again good luck to Southampton in your quest to reach the premiership youve got the right bloke leading you there

  • Comment number 81.

    Having been a fan of the club for nearly fifty years I have never felt more optimistic about the future of the club.Not since those heady days of 1966 when we first achieved top level status under Ted Bates has there been such a buzz about the club.
    The infrastructure is in place;the team is playing for each other and the fans are united.
    Lets all pull together and achieve our rightful goal. Come on you 'Saints'.

  • Comment number 82.

    @Atillathecat
    hey my friend, get your lot in shape, and join us & the Seagulls in the Prem, where we can all have a good time!

  • Comment number 83.

    I think this article sums up the work done by Nigel Adkins. It's unbelievable how well he's got his team going at the start of this season.

    http://sortyoursport.com/championship/the-key-to-a-winning-side/

  • Comment number 84.

    As a long term Saints supporter I now listen on Solent to the matches and the message coming over very clearly is that we have a strong squad playing exciting Football. So let's praise everyone, the chairman, the manager, the back room staff, the players and the supporters. We have quality in the club and we will be a good premier side if/when we get there.

    Now this club rivalry thing is getting a bit out of hand. We have no argument with Brighton who have gone about their business over the years and achieved much success. Good luck to Brighton and let's hope we both end up in the Premiership.

    Last season there was completely unexplainable animosity with Bournemouth. This is a team that for fifty years plus we have had close ties with. We have had training matches and exchanged players with Bournemouth. Good luck Bournemouth and if you do not win promotion this year let's hope you thrash Portsmouth next season. Portsmouth.......going down!

  • Comment number 85.

    I have been a Saints supporter since the days of Mick Channon, who was the first choice England striker even when Southampton were in the second division (imagine an England striker playing in the Championship today!). When Rupert Lowe was Chairman, he was criticised - with justification - for not being a football man. Graeme Souness famously asked "How many other people do you know in football named Rupert?". Many fans had similar concerns when Nicola Cortese replaced Alan Pardew, who had been a successful Premier League manager and had won the Johnstone's Paint trophy, with Nigel Adkins, who was struggling to keep Scunthorpe in the Championship. In retrospect it seems like an an inspired choice.

 

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