- Premier League
Adkins sacked by Southampton
Nigel Adkins has been sacked as manager of Southampton and replaced by former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino, the club have announced.
The Saints, who have been struggling near the bottom of the table since returning to the top flight last summer, parted company with 47-year-old Adkins despite a recent upturn in results. ESPN understands Adkins' departure had been envisaged from the moment the club got promoted to the Premier League.
After losing their first four fixtures of the season and taking until the end of November to claim their second league win of the campaign, Southampton are unbeaten in their last five matches, including a midweek 2-2 draw at Chelsea which lifted them to 15th in the table, three points clear of the relegation zone.
However, that was not enough to stop Adkins being axed by the club he led from the third tier to the Premier League via back-to-back promotions. Despite that success, the Southampton hierarchy were understood to have favoured bringing in a manager perceived to be "Premier League level" for a while.
As far back as October, powerful figures within the club were reportedly doubting whether Adkins would remain as manager. One player privately said "he could literally be gone any week". That pressure seemed to have calmed recently given Southampton's big improvement in form. However, a plan was kept in place and that has led to the appointment of Pochettino.
"Southampton football club has this morning appointed Mauricio Pochettino as first team manager, having relieved Nigel Adkins of his managerial duties," a club statement read. "Forty-year-old Pochettino has earned a reputation as one of the most talented young coaches in European football thanks to an impressive spell in La Liga with Espanyol.
"The Argentine was widely linked with a future role at one of Spain's top clubs but, having left Espanyol in November, now joins Southampton to continue his top-flight managerial career. The club would like to thank Nigel Adkins for his service over the past three seasons, and to wish him well for the future."
Southampton confirmed that Pochettino would be in the dugout for Monday night's Premier League game against Everton at St Mary's. The former Argentina international was sacked by Espanyol two months ago after a 2-0 defeat at home to Getafe left the Catalans bottom of La Liga with just two wins from their first 13 games.
He had initially impressed on taking the job in 2009, leading Espanyol to an eighth-place finish in 2011, but a combination of financial troubles at the club and a falling-out with the board led to his dismissal last year.