Last January, two days after Southampton’s impressive 2-2 draw away to Chelsea, club chairman Nicola Cortese sacked Nigel Adkins, the physio-turned-manager who had guided Southampton from League One all the way to the Premier League. Cortese immediately unveiled Adkins’ replacement: Mauricio Pochettino, a young, talented former Espanyol coach who didn’t speak a word of English. “Far-fetched was how the Premier League appeared then to Saints,” lamented Daily Mail columnist Michael Walker, referring to Southampton’s years in the lower divisions. “Far-fetched is how Adkins’ dismissal appears now.”
Walker wasn’t the only critic of Cortese’s decision – Southampton was on a six-game unbeaten streak at the time, and many pundits, including Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier, who said that Cortese had “a bit of an ego problem,” feared that Adkins’ departure would Unsettle The Dressing Room.