I was sat on the train, the whole of the south coast and most of the UK covered in a blanket of snow, I was reading Pete Townshend’s autobiography, my phone rang. It was Smiley, a good friend and fellow musician “Hello mate I’m on the train so it might cut out” I said, “Oh, so you haven’t heard the news then?” He said, “No” was my sinking feared reply…”Saints have just sacked Adkins mate”. I thought he was winding me up as he is a Chelsea fan and our last game saw us come back at Stamford Bridge from two down and to draw the game. I knew he was telling the truth when he said I’m listening to it on talk sport. My stomach dropped, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was truly shocked.
A man that has taken the saints up in two consecutive seasons back into the premier league from the lower end of league one, A man that has the best win-loss record in Saints history, A man that has always been sincere, intelligent and honest, A man that the fans respect and feel admiration for, And now a man sacked for no apparent reason (“relieved of his duties”) and to be replaced by Mauricio Pochettino from Argentina that not many people down here on the south coast had ever heard of.
In truth we all know how fickle football is in the 21st century, how quick and easy it is for owners and chairmen to bear no regard for the fans thoughts and feelings. After all we the fans only make up something like forty percent of the players wages, the rest coming from sponsorship and television rights etc. But we the fans are the voice of it’s team and the ever present cheering, singing, paying force, combined travelling thousands of miles and spending millions of pounds to support their team. Some teams have regard for the fans and listen and encourage involvement, but it seems that more and more clubs are just about big headlines and big money. What makes me sad and angry is that how we can just replace the manager on a whim.
As a football club the last few seasons for Southampton have been some of the best for me, ploughing our way back from the brink of liquidation, rebuilding and growing again as a club. Both Alan Pardew and now Nigel Adkins sackings have come as a shock and totally out of the blue when results have been good and the football being played at a quality of what we the fans like to see and enjoy. The growing and building of the team under Adkins has been brilliant and has had a true spirit that the fans have all felt part of. I guess in a slightly romantic way that is why I like football, from when you’re a young lad playing in a team, you belong to something and share the same goals as every other player that you all want to win. That’s what we have had down here at St Marys, we the fans have felt part of the whole team. To then have it ripped to shreds by sacking the manager seems hugely unfair.
I know that in the modern game there isn’t a lot of room for sentimentalities and football is a “here to day gone tomorrow type of sport” but the alienation of the chairman towards the fans with this decision is what’s unjust about it. To not appear in the press conference with Mauricio Pochettino for his first interviews shows a slight cowardice to me. Also for Pochettino to say he has been studying the team for weeks shows that this appointment has been on the cards for sometime. Whilst Nigel Adkins and the team were loosing just two of their last twelve games and pulling away from the relegation zone Nicola Cortese was planning his replacement.
Yes good teams and clubs need good business heads behind them, but surely communication has to be a priority. To feel powerless for something you feel so much passion for like the Saints fans feel for this club is a horrible feeling and by the looks of it something we should all get used to. I find this sad but Football in the year 2013 is just about results, not feelings.
The internets social media side is everybody’s soapbox and it was good to see how many people do still have feelings in this game and I hope Nigel Adkins saw how much he will be missed down here in Southampton and how respected he is as a man and a football manager.
Mauricio Pochettino has been thrown into the football headlines in the worse possible way and I just hope his moment of fame in England is better than the penalty he gave away whilst playing for Argentina against England in the 2002 World Cup.
I am Dave Pen