How Pochettino is proving the doubters wrong at Southampton

Southampton are off to a flying start under Mauricio Pochettino, justifying Nicola Cortese's decision to sack Nigel Adkins last season.

Mauricio Pochettino, the 41-year-old Argentine, has come under a great amount of scrutiny in Britain as he still hasn't learned to speak English despite being on the South Coast for almost a year. His appointment was met with disdain by the media in this country, as Adkins' departure was yet another case of a British manager being harshly replaced by a foreign boss.

Pochettino notched just four wins last season, though three of those came against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Flashes of progress were apparent, but much better was expected of the former Espanyol boss entering his first full season in charge of the Saints.

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The summer came and Pochettino experienced something he hadn't had with Espanyol – financial backing. Southampton released funds and let their manager bring in a number of high profile players – Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Pablo Dani Osvaldo were brought in from Lyon, Celtic and Roma respectively, for a total of £36m.

During his time in La Liga, Pochettino had to work on a budget, and when he had Espanyol firmly placed in the European spots, he was forced to sell the core of his side, as Victor Ruiz, Didac Vila, Jose Maria Callejon and the aforementioned Osvaldo were all sold to balance the books, causing a catastrophic decline in results, which led to Pochettino's eventual sacking.

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Now with backing – both financially and in the sense that he's the face of the Southampton project, they will aim to establish themselves as a Premier League club. The success of this is totally dependent on results, and Pochettino is getting them early on this year.

With just two goals conceded – the lowest total in the Premier League – and three straight wins, the Saints sit in the Champions League places after seven games, and whilst it's highly unlikely that they can maintain this form and finish in the top four, they should certainly be aiming for a top half finish.

Pochettino has also overseen the development of a flurry of kids from Southampton's vaunted academy, as Calum Chambers, James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw have established themselves as members of the first team squad. Having produced the likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Southampton have placed a large amount of emphasis on their academy products, and Pochettino is embracing this strategy so far this season.

It isn't all going perfectly for the Argentine though, with rumours of Osvaldo already wanting to leave St. Mary's Stadium, with the Italian not exactly enamoured with the physicality of the Premier League, Rickie Lambert going through a relative goal drought and Gaston Ramirez unable to justify his £12m price tag, but with a watertight defence, Southampton can continue to flourish under Pochettino.

image: © mischatuffield

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