It was the 12th September 2010, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the day, but little did we know that our journey as Saints supporters was about to change forever. He was tanned, he wore spectacles and his silvery brown hair was waxed into a quiff. Most Saints fans knew little of who he was or what he stood for. Some were bemused as to why this chirpy Scouser with the permanent smile was being given the reigns at our club. His record was that of a lower league manager who could get teams promoted but also relegated again. Was this a ‘big’ enough appointment for Saints?
Soon, the results started to come, and those who had been furious at the removal of Alan Pardew started to come round. Not only were Saints starting to win, they were doing it with a panache, a team spirit and a belief young Saints fans had never previously experienced.
Nigel Adkins was no longer a stranger, and his vision and his passion was inspiring us all. That permanent smile became infectious, his enthusiasm and almost exclusive positivity were worn like an armour in the face of any (though there were few) adversity. We had a team, a team that worked for each other, that stood ‘together as one’ and excited an often melancholy Saints crowd.
It took us a while to get used to it. We were too long perennial losers to find success too comfortable, but Adkins achieved it. His effect on our fanbase probably surpasses that of any other manager, certainly in my lifetime, and the strength of feeling shown at his dismissal will surely offer him some comfort.
It is usually the supporters who end a managers tenure. Not this time. This is the last thing we wanted. It feels like we have lost a relative, a friend and a leader all at the same time.
This has been two and a half of the best seasons in my time as a Saints supporter, and perhaps the only time I went into every game believing we could win.
I am sure Nigel will walk straight into another job, and he will be a success. He is a winner, a believer and perhaps a dreamer, but most importantly at all he is a gentleman and a note left for the players at the training ground said it all.
Have faith & belief that you are doing the right thing.
Keep looking to improve
Right back at you Nige.
Thank you Nigel Adkins. Thank you ‘the man in the glass’. You will go down in Saints history as a legend. Time to draw a blue line under it, move on, and control the controllables.