Embattled Manager of the Week: Nigel Adkins, Southampton

By Jonny Abrams


Jonny Forumer
Who cares what a bunch of disinterested hacks have to say when you can get the skinny direct from those to whom it matters most? Well, good news – Football Burp’s very own Jonny Forumer, lurker extraordinaire, is here to collate choice message board analysis so you can get the lowdown from the people who really know what they’re on about. Take it away, Jonny…

Morning folks, Jonny Forumer reporting for duty. Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at West Ham United left Southampton still without a win in the Premier League this season, and naturally manager Nigel Adkins is coming in for some criticism from the St Mary’s faithful, not least for his decision to bench star centre forward Rickie Lambert and his persistence with a seemingly unsuitable 4-3-3 formation. That latter bone of contention however seems to run deeper, at least going by word from online joint Saints Web, not to mention this seemingly prescient article by one Adam Blackmore…

Southampton's St Mary's Stadium
St Mary’s… Faithful (Img: Colin Smith)


That interview did nothing for my confidence in him. I’m of the opinion we should let him put right his wrongs in Jan, when he can strengthen and to be fair, he made it quite clear when asked about strengthening that we can’t concede goals like that, which was as close as a ‘yes, we need to strengthen’ as we’re going to get.

But to then go on to say, bluntly, we are going to carry on playing 4-3-3 without even a hint of considering change, of dropping his opinion on this in order to win, without coming close to mentioning he will look at other ways of playing if it gets the results, my confidence dropped, quickly. I really admire the desire to want to play great football, but as he has said himself, it’s about ‘winning games of football’ and since we don’t seem to be able to do it playing 4-3-3, bloody change it.

His justification for not playing Ricky from the start worries me too. It seemed to simply be ‘we have other players’. Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to play them if it’s not the right thing to do. Playing the right way, for your opponent, is more important than playing your star player… but not playing him just because we have others is crazy. That’s exactly how it came across in this interview.

Perhaps he is being put under pressure to play our new boys? He said with great passion that the team, transfers, tactics, selections and style of play are 100% down to him and him alone and he will live and die by those decisions… but then refuses to entertain the idea of changing.

Something doesn’t add up.


There is a remit through all levels of the football club to play a specific way, with a specific formation. This goes round down to the U-14 level teams.

The change in the tactics was a club-wide change, not a first team change.


The fact that RL,who seems to be the only player who has adapted to the PL is either subbed or on the bench. He causes the opposition problems and it has been a disgrace the points lost by subbing him.I will never accept that we would have lost had RL stayed on against MAn u. The confidence just a point in that game would have given would be very telling.NA yes the live and die by your decisions, it seems you are reckless with your job, perhaps BOlton or BUrnley seem a good future

RobM, SaintsWeb…

That’s brilliant and worrying at the same time. It’s brilliant that we want to bring players through playing the same style, so they can drop straight into the team and understand the style of play… but what if it doesn’t work for the first team?

Saint Fan CaM…

In all the time Adkins has been with us, that was the most telling interview in terms of what he DIDN’T say. He will be gone soon…a shame yes – however life at Saints will go on without him. If he is being asked to do something that is beyond him, then simply put, he’s been found out.

david in sweden…

ANY new manager would have the same players at his disposal…..and wouldn’t be likely to do better.

It’s the players fault and not the manager’s…

lordswood saints…

I think I eluded to this a few weeks ago when I spoke to billy sharp (cant be bothered to dig out the thread) but it was obvious to me after speaking to him that Adkins was a bit of a puppet and will probably end up as the fall guy

Patrick Bateman…

What is his job title, Head Coach, isn’t it? He’s therefore NOT the Manager in the traditional (i.e. Sir Alex, if you like) sense or Director of football. I don’t know why this is a surprise to people? Of course everyone at the club is involved in what is the biggest expense, why shouldn’t they be? There will be a team of people identifying and working on transfers.


This is confirmed. Goalkeepers are told under no circumstances hoof the ball. Always give to a defender and let them bring out of defence. Even if they are all being tightly marked.

Like it or not, the club now has an ethos. An identity. A way of playing the game. If it doesn’t produce wins in the Premier League, we’ll get relegated. We won’t sell out and bring in a long ball manager to preserve PL status. We are playing the long game. If you don’t like it, you better learn to.

Baird of the land…

The idea of playing a fixed formation no matter the opposition seems bizarre. The idea of trying to move over a longer period to 4-3-3 being our default formation does not.

The idea of others being responsible for the transfer policy doesn’t particularly bother me as long as coach is involved in the discussions as to the type of players needed.

The idea of regularly dropping our star player/subbing him repeatedly bothers me immensely. I really don’t get how being toothless against W.Ham in the 1st half was a good idea.

I’m still supporting Adkins for now, given all the goodwill for masterminding 2 successive promotions.


I can only surmise because I don’t know, but I think that the answer to that may be that we may have to undergo short term pain – including relegation – to achieve a long term gain. If there is a club ethos to do this then two things follow: 1. It could take some time 2 results may not be great during that time. If it is a club ethos then Adkins can scarcely be sacked for following it since Cortese has presumably had an influence on that decision..

Saint Scott…

To not play RL against a Big Fat Sam side who hoof the ball all day long is absolutely criminal. I am a big believer in Adkins and what he has done for this club the past two years has been nothing short of a miracle. However, he f**ked up big time in the summer window and is paying the price now. If cortese is as bad as people like MLT make out he could well be out on his ear. People that say even if we get relegated he has done a good job are wrong. If he can’t hack premier league management then I’m sorry but he has to go. Although redknapp is a complete w**ker he knows how to run a premier league club and has a great eye for talented players. I would take him over Nigel at this moment in time to be frank.


He is lost, not only that, he has “tunnel” vision

“We will play 4/3/3 ” …. even though most pundits can see it aint working

Boruc ??? I honestly could not see the reason he came in over Paulo ?? Besides, it’s NOT the keeper, it’s the lack of Defence, or a Defence strategy, and THAT is down to the Manager

I will be amazed if Adkins is still in a job come Tuesday am., and while we are about it Cortese should be ASHAMED by his own “tunnel” vision, ie “Ramirez at all costs, and sod some decent CB’s ”

I have stated before that I do not think that things have been running smoothly (behind the scenes) at SMS for some time

The nasty, petty, and stupid things he has “introduced” especially this season, has taken away our “tradition” of being a Family Club

Bring back the Championship, when we can go along and Enjoy things again


We don’t have the players to play 4-3-3 – it’s as simple as that.

Lambert is just not fast enough or mobile enough to lead the line playing that way. We also lack wide forwards/wingers with real pace to play that way.

Not to mention the fact that out full backs just aren’t up to playing that way either – both of them need protection from a midfielder in front of them.

All this suggests there is some truth in the rumour we are being made to play that way from the very top down.

Adkins did sound all but defeated in his post match interview.

Something has to change – and it has to be the way we play – I can’t see that simply changing the manager will make any difference.

Whoever was ultimately responsible for signing players in the summer should also take a large chunk of the blame for not brining in the players needed to play 4-3-3 or more importantly strengthening he defence.


Adkins to stay for me. We’ve chopped and changed in the past; look where it got us. Adkins said he wanted one or two defenders. For me it’s not his fault. The first half prove the tactics were fine and working. Adkins is being let down by the defence.

The quality of a club and it’s fans is whether they stick behind people even in bad times.

2 years ago I’d have taken being in the Premiership; I’m guessing most people would have. We’re possibly a victim of our own rapid success. Redknapp is a fossil. Despite his good record, we must look forward and not back. Plus, he’s a w****r

Golac’s Cunning Stunts…

**If** NA is being dictated to as to what formation to play, he always has the option to refuse or walk. As he hasn’t done that, I can only assume he is happy to play that way. Regardless of who sets the formation, nobody made him drop SRL and Gazza today – quite astonishing decisions.

All this talk of formation, but the biggest damage was done by not strengthening the defence in the summer. We are on to a mullering EVERY away game this season. Every team will be looking to tear us a good one. We desperately need to win all of our home games but I can’t see that happening. Spurs next and I fancy us to concede at least 3.

Adkins: in or out, Saints fans? Have your say in the comments section below…