What Mauricio Pochettino's Appointment Means for Southampton and the EPL
Nigel Adkins' dismissal has surprised the majority of English football. Southampton have lost just two of their previous 12 matches, are unbeaten in five and had recorded a remarkable comeback at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
With that in mind, his sacking seems strange, especially considering he had led the club to back-to-back promotions from League One too.
But what is done is done, and the incoming manager—Mauricio Pochettino—will provide plenty for Southampton and Premier League fans alike to talk about.
Sacked from Espanyol in November with the Barcelona-based side bottom of La Liga and having only won twice in their 13 league matches, the 40-year-old is actually a far better coach than that would suggest.
Capped 20 times for Argentina, Pochettino took to the task of managing Los Pericos in early 2009 and for the best part of three years was considered one of—if not the—brightest young manager in Spain. As recently as March, 2012 he was being strongly linked with the Valencia job.
It is the Pochettino of the beginning and for the most part of his stay at Espanyol that can be expected when he begins his full-time role at St Marys. The reason that can be said with a hint of confidence, is that Southampton will offer him the financial flexibility that was ill-afforded to him at Cornella-el Prat.
Forced to lose players such as Alvaro Vazquez and Javi Marquez to tighten a struggling financial ship, Luke Shaw's recent contract renewal is a sign that Pochettino will be working with a squad with whom he has no immediate concerns of bigger clubs swallowing up his talented youngsters—and Southampton have history in producing many.
Pochettino's words upon his appointment have already hinted at his delight at joining a project which offers him a more stable platform:
"There is a clear vision to take the club to a new era of sustained success in the Premier League, and beyond, which I’m delighted to be part of.”
What Southampton and The Premier League can expect from him is an aggressive side, that pushes high up the pitch—as many teams in Spain do at the moment. He also tends to keep his sides very organised, something which should be beneficial to any side.
You can possibly expect to see him on his iPhone too. At Espanyol he had a system in place where he could order up replays almost instantly on his phone, ready to use during half-time team talks.
He will keep the players on their toes too, he's not afraid to make decision based on loyalties aside from the pitch. At Espanyol, he was known to be good friends with Raul Tamudo, yet that didn't prevent him stripping him of the captaincy and eventually showing him the door. Tamudo was worshipped at Espanyol for years, but Pochettino knew his time was up.
Though not quite insisting on the style of Barcelona or last season's Athletic Bilbao, Pochettino does, when possible, like to play the ball from the back but this doesn't dictate his image. He manages based on what works best as opposed to being completely complicit with one style.
Nigel Adkins' departure may have come as something of a surprise, but Southampton have appointed a young coach, with largely good credentials and with a point to prove following his dismissal from Espanyol.
It could prove a good mix.
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