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.