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Nigel Adkins named Reading Manager

Former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins has become the new Reading manager, replacing Brian McDermott who was sacked just under two weeks ago. He'll be officially revealed to the public at a press conference this morning.

Ian Walton

After a title winning spell as a player-manager at Bangor in Wales, Adkins first major job in England was manager at Scunthorpe, where he'd also worked as a physio. The former goalkeeper twice lead Scunthorpe out of League One into the Championship, with a title win in 2007 followed by a Wembley play-off win in 2009.

He then succeded Alan Pardew at Southampton in 2010 and led the Saints to back-to-back promotions, finishing runners up to Gus Poyet's Brighton in 2011 and then to Brian McDermott's Reading in 2012.

However, like McDermott found at Reading, promotion wasn't enough to keep him in a job and with Southampton hovering around the dropzone, Adkins was replaced with Mauricio Pochettino in mid-January.

Since then he's been linked with several other jobs including most recently at Leeds but his decision to take legal action against the Saints held up his return to management.
'Keep smiling. Have faith & belief that you are doing the right thing. Keep looking to improve -Adkins final message to Southampton's players.

So that's the history bit done with but what can we expect going forward from our new boss?

Certainly this is a manager who's team favour attacking football wherever possible. Southampton wracked up 85 goals last season on their way to promotion (16 more than Reading) while the season before they had 86 en route to promotion from the third tier. Even this season Southampton still knew how to find the net with Southampton scoring 30 goals in 22 games, 12th most in the division at that point.
We had a man who has already achieved a great many things in Nigel Adkins, a manager who preached attacking football, a manager touted for great things by many in the English game. A man who's last game for us will always be a 2-2 away draw to the European champions. -Saintsweb

He built teams with a good amount of attacking flair but wasn't afraid to adapt his team to match the situation. 4-4-2 was certainly a staple of his Championship sides but he had been known to go 4-5-1 when the situation merited it. The likes of Adam Lallana, Jason Puncheon, Rickie Lambert qne Billy Sharp flourished under him, not to mention the development of players such as Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin.

Defensively it wasn't quite as clear cut. Southampton struggled to keep clean sheets and they've had a bit of a rotating cast at the back, much like here at the Madejski. Proven Championship performers like Kelvin Davis struggled to make the step up and they took a while to adjust.

Just as McDermott's removal from the Reading job prompted a generally negative response, Adkins sacking was one which prompted a fair amount of disappointment amongst the Southampton fanbase and the press in general.

Saintsweb, a Southampton web forum had this reaction in the immediate aftermath.
Nigel Adkins has been sacked, the man who helped us to back to back promotions, the man who gave me some of my best memories as a Saints fan has gone. Only 2 defeats in 12 games, laying 15th in the league. He has been sacked.

Apparently the new manager, Mauricio Pochettino, has been brought in to help us achieve our future ambitions. He preaches attacking football, he has been rated by some of the biggest names in Europe. Despite having achieved very little at Espanyol.

We had a man who has already achieved a great many things in Nigel Adkins, a manager who preached attacking football, a manager touted for great things by many in the English game. A man who's last game for us will always be a 2-2 away draw to the European champions.

This is beyond cruel, beyond sense, beyond any kind of honour. What price for ambition? What price for our integrity?

We have overachieved beyond all wildest dreams in recent years. A five year plan for promotion to the premier league? Nigel Adkins achieved it's brief in only 2 seasons.

Nicola Cortese, what have you done? He was universally loved by the fanbase. Be prepared to fall on your sword if this fails.

It all sounds so familiar in light of what many fans were saying after McDermott was sacked. Southampton fans opinion of Cortese will have obviously mellowed somewhat given the decent start made by Pochettino and Adkins did still have his critics, especially after a dire start to the season.

On that note it's important to remember just how much Adkins has been given to spend, with the former goalkeeper spending around £50 million during just over two years at St Mary's. Gaston Ramirez on his own was around £12 million which is roughly what McDermott had to spend in his three and a half years combined. Add in the likes of Jay Rodriguez for £7m and it's possible to see why some Southampton fans would have been slightly underwhelmed with a manager who earned just 22 points from his 22 Premier League games.

But that points tally tells a slightly misleading story of the season.

After a return of just 4 points in 10 games, Southampton were on something of a charge, with Adkins suffering defeat in just 2 of his last 12 league games, with the Saints trucking along at a points per game ratio of around 1.5, a record that would easily have seen them safe on 46 points.

Sadly Southampton's owners felt that survival wasn't good enough and I suppose if you've thrown a manager £50m you might well feel he should be doing a bit better. If that's their view then fair enough but personally I felt the sacking was very harsh and here's hoping that Reading will benefit from the Saints' over ambition.

Can he save us?

If he continued that 1.5ppg form from Southampton, then we'd end up on 35 points, which would give us a shout at least. With games against Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool to come, that's certainly a tough ask but with our other games against Southampton, QPR, Norwich, West Ham and Fulham it's not out of the question to see us winning or picking up points in all of those games.

Personally I don't think we've got enough to do it but could I see it happening? Sure, it wouldn't shock me.

Regardless, he's a manager that knows how to win promotion. 4 promotions in 6 seasons is a fabulous record even when Southampton's spending habits are taken into consideration.

He's a manager that's very much in the Reading mould, taking it one step at a time and not losing his cool very often. He speaks well and keeps it simple and if you wanted a measure of the man, here's what he left at the Southampton training ground after he was sacked.

Keep Smiling

Have faith & belief that you are doing the right thing.

Keep looking to improve


Whether sacking Brian was the right decision will be a question that will be debated for years but if Adkins is the new manager then it's time to put those discussions behind us and give Nigel our backing.

We've got eight massive games to go and we might as well give this great escape lark one more try.

We'll have more analysis and news as it breaks but for now please let us know your thoughts below.

Meanwhile, welcome to the club Nigel and c'mon URZ!