Premier League: Does Adkins for Reading Mean EPL Is Eating Itself?

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Premier League: Does Adkins for Reading Mean EPL Is Eating Itself?
Ian Walton/Getty Images
Nigel Adkins has replaced Brian McDermott as Reading manager.

New Reading boss Nigel Adkins is a great, young manager. He learned his trade on the football ladder with Scunthorpe United where he was the physiotherapist before succeeding Brian Laws.

From trainee goalkeeper with Tranmere Rovers in the early 1980s through to taking Southampton into the Premier League on the back of successive promotions from the third tier of English football, League One, the 48-year-old has learned his craft at football's real coalface.

Adkins' excessively harsh treatment at the hands of Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese when he was sacked in January despite guiding the club out of the relegation zone and into 12th place on the back of a run of two defeats in 12 league matches.

When new Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino took charge for his first game, the 0-0 draw with Everton at St Mary's Stadium, Adkins' name reverberated around the walls of the ground from supporters who were stunned at his dismissal after just two-and-a-half years in the role.

Southampton were promoted from the Championship last season in second place behind Reading, who also possessed a fine, young manager in Brian McDermott.

The former Arsenal player had also learned his way around a football club from his playing days and through youth coaching.

In just over three years, almost the same length of time Adkins had at Southampton, McDermott took the Royals to a playoff final against Swansea and then earned promotion as Championship champions.

Two weeks ago, however, Reading owner Anton Zingarevich decided a run of four successive defeats leaving the club second bottom of the table was more than enough to warrant sacking the 51-year-old.

The Russian made the usual noises about his gratitude to McDermott (Sky Sports) in a statement to announce the manager's departure, and Paolo Di Canio was immediately installed as a favourite to take over.

Reading are currently seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the Premier League and, while Adkins is "excited" (via BBC Sport) about the challenge of keeping the club in the top flight, has he or, indeed, the Royals moved much further forward with this appointment?

Sympathy was in abundance for both Adkins and McDermott when they were sacked. They had had little time to find their feet in the top flight, which is considered to be several leagues above the Championship in terms of quality, and were at the whim of their club owners.

Both Cortese and Zingarevich are, understandably, desperate to remain in the Premier League for next season when a new television deal worth a staggering £3 billion (via The Guardian).

The riches on offer far exceed those previously on offer with revenue generated by the new broadcasting deal rising by 71 percent, according to The Guardian report.

While Birkenhead-born Adkins is a welcome return to the top flight, there is a sense of the Premier League eating itself among the bottom clubs.

Queens Park Rangers' appointment of Harry Redknapp in November was an understandable switch with the Loftus Road side so far adrift at the foot of the table, but Adkins for McDermott just seems a little too like-for-like.

Both managers extol the virtues of entertaining football, but both clubs were always going to be in an adjustment period in the top flight. Consequently, their playing staff would need time to be adapted and strengthened for the challenge of staying in the Premier League.

That hasn't happened with club owners trying to outdo each other in a bid to remain in place for the financial windfall which is about to open up next season.

Of course, Reading may have timed the appointment of Adkins exactly right. The new boss has eight games in which to claw back the current seven-point deficit and new-manager syndrome has often produced a rediscovery of form for teams and players.

Adkins will open his Reading career at Arsenal on Saturday, but his first home match will be the following weekend against Southampton.

The Premier League might be eating itself, but the fixture list knows how to feast on irony.

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