Southampton have sacked Nigel Adkins as manager, and replaced him with former Argentina international and ex-Espanyol manager, Mauricio Pochettino.
The English football establishment is relatively surprised at the axing of the likeable Adkins, who led the Saints into the Premier League following consecutive promotions.
The sacking of Adkins is especially odd, considering that it came just days after the Saints had battled back from a two-goal deficit to draw with European champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
But with the team in 15th place in the league, just four points above the drop zone, perhaps Southampton’s decision makers feared they would be relegated without a change of leadership.
Hiring Pochettino to guide the Saints in a relegation dog fight is a major risk however.
The 40-year-old has only ever managed Espanyol, and was axed as their manager in November last year, with the club mired in last place on La Liga log.
Confirming Pochettino’s appointment on their official website, Southampton wrote:
“Southampton Football Club has this morning appointed Mauricio Pochettino as First Team Manager, having relieved Nigel Adkins of his managerial duties.
Forty year old Pochettino has earned a reputation as one of the most talented young coaches in European football thanks to an impressive spell in La Liga with Espanyol.
The Argentine was widely linked with a future role at one of Spain’s top clubs, but having left Espanyol in November now joins Southampton to continue his top-flight managerial career.
Pochettino will take charge of training on Saturday ahead of his first game as Southampton First Team Manager on Monday evening (21st December) against Everton in the Barclays Premier League.
The Club would like to thank Nigel Adkins for his service over the past three seasons, and wish him well for the future.”