Lunatics have taken over Asylum in the Premier League

Southampton’s dismissal of Nigel Adkins was an indictment of the outrageous greed, accompanied by fundamental lack of understanding of the game, which has taken over the Premier League.

A club of Southampton’s size may reasonably expect to spend more time outside the Premier League than in it. With all due respect, it is not a club of world renown, has never won the League, and has a limited supporter catchment area. Yet it has now enjoyed double promotion and seemed set, after overcoming a disappointing start to the season and beginning a so-far unbeaten 2013 with draws with Arsenal and Chelsea and victory in a relegation six-pointer at Villa, to retain Premier League status for the foreseeable future.

The reason for Mr Adkins’ dismissal was that he somehow does not fit the long-term ambition of the club. Again, no harm to Southampton, but it is not of sufficient size or renown to have “plans” (long-term or otherwise) above reasonable stability in the Premier League. In terms of size and heritage, it is at best in the tier below Chelsea and Manchester City, so even a buy-out by a Russian Oligarch or an Arab Sheik is not likely – and that is the only thing which can make any club smaller than Manchester United a perennial title contender! Southampton is achieving its ambitions already; there is no hint of fan disaffection; and the only thing dismissing the manager who has delivered all this will do is risk the status which has already been attained. Again, pure greed on the part of the owners will leave fans short-changed – and quite possibly soon back in the ridiculously named “Football League Championship”.

The fundamental lack of understanding goes further. Owners too often fail to understand that, with the exception of seriously gifted men like Mourinho or Ferguson, the team manager will make very little difference. Statistics show, time after time, that dismissing a manager is on balance a bad thing – it merely means bringing someone else in to do things differently, and by the time you’ve managed (and spent vast amounts of money on) the transition things are an awful lot worse and you’re ready to sack the new guy and repeat the nonsensical cycle! The myth of the manager coming in and magically turning things around is just that, a myth – the only team which has genuinely managed it in my lifetime is Melchester Rovers.

I do not know what we can do to restore football to people who actually know about it. I do know that Mr Adkins is the latest victim of the vicious and ignorant greed which threatens the game.

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4 thoughts on “Lunatics have taken over Asylum in the Premier League

  1. Colin Reid says:

    I, like 99.9% of Southampton fans, was angered, embarrassed and bewildered when the news filtered through that Adkins was sacked last week. We were left devastated by the decision of the board, which will led to protests at today’s game against Everton. But I think the tone and argument of your piece is wrong. I believe that the board have made the wrong decision, and Adkins should, at least, have been given an entire season in charge in the Premiership. That said, I am unclear how ‘outrageous greed’ is behind the decision to sack Adkins: the chairman has brought in Pochettino to advance the ambitions of the club. Wanting to improve, to take a club to the next level, is not necessarily driven by greed, but by a very human desire to want to succeed, to push to be better. That is ambition, not greed. The chairman believed (wrongly, I think) that Adkins could not made Southampton into a solid mid-table side, and has replaced him with a former Argentine international who leaves Espanyol with a strong reputation. That is an ambitious step, no matter what you think of the club’s dismal treatment of Adkins.

    Your comments about Southampton’s size and long-term expectations are just incorrect. A statement like ‘A club of Southampton’s size may reasonably expect to spend more time outside the Premier League than in it’ overlooks several ket points. Before relegation in 2005, the Saints spent 27 unbroken years in the the top flight of English football. That is more than many of today’s ‘big clubs’. Leaving the possible discontent created by Adkins’s sacking to the side, the club have a great infrastructure, an elite youth academy (think Matt Le Tissier, Alan Shearer, Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Alex Ox-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw), and money. Pace your point ‘no harm to Southampton, but it is not of sufficient size or renown to have “plans” (long-term or otherwise) above reasonable stability in the Premier League’, Saints have spent some £30 million on players since the summer: I expect the new manager to bring in several high profile names over the next year. This is a club that has what it takes not only to survive, but to flourish in the Premiership. True, we won’t be competing for the title, but we are not some minor club that should automatically be viewed as fodder for relegation.

    The sacking of Adkins was a disgrace. The board behaved with no class. But you will struggle to find grace and dignity on the board of any top flight club.

    • Hi Colin – welcome on board!

      I didn’t say Southampton was relegation fodder; on the contrary, I quite clearly said that Adkins had built a team capable of staying on top flight in the long term.

      My contention is that the idea that someone would need to take them to the “next level” is plainly ludicrous. For a club of Southampton’s size – never League Champions, for example – there is no “next level” beyond Premier League status.

      Fans do need to be realistic. My own team is Arsenal. I would love to think Arsenal is one of Europe’s truly massive clubs – but realistically it isn’t. Never having won the Champions’ League, realistically it is a tier below Barcelona, Manchester United or Milan.

      Nor did I say this was unique – indeed, it has been endemic for some time now. Peter Ridsdale bust Leeds in pursuit of the “next level”, after all!

      • Colin Reid says:

        Cheers Ian. I think ‘Premier League status’ operates on four levels: title contenders; the struggle for 4th place; comfortable mid-table; and the relegation scrap. There is a big difference between the clubs occupying these categories.Saints are clearly in the relegation level; the next level to strive for is mid-table status. But after that, who knows? An ambitious and able manager (I hope), some money to spend and a world class youth academy might just push Southamption up the table over the next five years. When the club was saved from administration in 2009, the new owners installed a (Soviet-esque) five year plan to return to the Premiership. This was achived in three; despite the appearances of an arrogant, uncaring and plain daft chairman, the club is in an incredibly healthy state. If we survive this season, there is nothing to stop Southampton from following the impressive course plotted by the likes of Everton or WBA. You have to remain eternally optimistic, don’t you?!

      • I’ll give you WBA…! :)

        I’ve always had a soft spot for Southampton actually because I’ve a cousin who supports them – having literally drawn them out of a hat aged five!

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