Southampton have shocked most of the footballing community with their decision to fire manager Nigel Adkins and replace him with Mauricio Pochettino with immediate effect. Considering it was only days since Adkins side managed to pull back from two goals down to draw away from home against Chelsea and an improvement in form that has seen the club rise up to 15th in the league it seems a bizarre decision to say the least.
Southampton fans seem to be furious with the decision and extremely disappointed to see the popular Liverpudlian leave the club after he guided them to two successive promotions and was just steadying the ship at Premier League level. Some fans have even begun hoping their own team is relegated to teach chairman Nicola Cortese, who sacked Alan Pardew in not so dissimilar circumstances, some form of lesson.
But let’s not forget that Pochettino is essentially the innocent party in any vitriol that is likely to be vented at St Marys on Monday night when they welcome Everton; and Sky cameras to the South Coast.
Cortese believes the decision is in the best intentions with regards to the ‘long-term future’ of the club. So just who is the Argentine who has broken so many hearts yet will be taking charge this Monday?
Here is a look at his career so far…
1. As a player Pochettino was an excellent central defender who featured for Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina before leaving for Spain with Espanyol.
2. After six years in Barcelona he left to play in France spending time at Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux before returning to Espanyol in 2004.
3. He was also an international for Argentina; playing 20 games and scoring twice. He featured in the 1999 Copa America and 2002 FIFA World Cup.
4. He is perhaps best known in the UK for ‘’fouling’’ Michael Owen in the Group Stages in Korea/Japan resulting in a penalty that an emotional David Beckham smashed home for a 1-0 England win.
5. After retiring in 2006 he was the assistant coach of the women’s team at Espanyol and the clubs third team before being handed the reins in January 2009.
6. He steered them to safety in his first season and had fairly successful seasons thereafter before losing his job last November with Espanyol bottom of the table on just nine points.
7. Before he was sacked he happened to be La Liga’s longest serving manager.
8. Coincidentally he was actually born in the same town, Murphy, as current Southampton goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga and also signed Rui Fonte, the brother of Southampton centre-back Jose, while in charge at Espanyol.
9. He was also the manager who effectively brought to an end the career of club legend and former team-mate Raul Tamudo in 2010.
10. While in charge of Espanyol he often found himself the object of ridicule from Catalan sporting satire show ‘Crackovia’ including this rendition of ‘Always look on the bright side of losing’. Something to give Southampton fans plenty to be excited about I am sure.
Before this season Pochettino actually performed pretty well at the club and should be given the chance to succeed at Southampton; however you can’t help wondering what he will do that Nigel Adkins couldn’t have done if given the chance.
image: © ingythewingy