Adkins advocates evolution not revolution at Southampton

Saints manager says club must recruit – but not at the expense of the values that earned promotion

St Mary's

Nigel Adkins, the Southampton manager, says that the publication of next season's Premier League fixtures will be the moment when the significance of the club's promotion to the Premier League after an absence of seven years sinks in, although, to judge by his reaction, there were at least four others on Saturday. His celebration of each of the goals that confirmed their elevation was uncharacteristically demonstrative, but the usual calm demeanour was back by the time he considered the task ahead, not drenched in champagne, but holding a cup of tea.

A time for cool appraisal lies ahead, which will mean business as usual for the former manager of Bangor City and Scunthorpe United, who admitted privately that he will be looking out for the fixtures with Liverpool, where he was a schoolboy goalkeeper. He still has his signing-on form, bearing the signature of Bob Paisley – like him, a physiotherapist-turned-manager – and has cited the Anfield boot room in the days when the Reds were serial trophy-winners, where the emphasis was on the group over the individual, as an influence on his management style.

Player recruitment this summer will not compromise those values. "Everyone contributes to the team ethic we've got and that's the biggest thing – it's about the team," he said. "Together everyone achieves more and the players work very hard for each other, which is backed up by the staff. We know what type of player we're looking for and we've been out there working very diligently to try to find players that are better than we've got but we're not going to disturb the team ethic. We'll take the momentum forward but we will be looking to improve the squad we've got and that's the natural evolution."

The style will remain unchanged on as well as off the field. Adkins spoke of other teams having proved that a winning style of passing football can transfer successfully onto the bigger stage, and the example of Norwich City is obvious, not least because they also secured successive promotions from League One and the Championship.

For Southampton to prosper, they will have to hope that Rickie Lambert can duplicate the success of Norwich's Grant Holt. Like Holt, Lambert is an old-fashioned centre-forward and a late developer who will taste the Premier League for the first time at 30. He silenced those who doubted his chances in his first experience of the Championship with 27 goals, but must now prove a new set of assumptions wrong.

Even if he does, reinforcements will be needed in other areas, with pace in central midfield and defence an obvious requirement, and that will require some immediate outlay. Nicola Cortese, the chairman, wants to base the club's future on the model of Barcelona's largely homegrown teams, with Saints' vaunted academy providing a sustainable core, and graduates such as Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain staying at St Mary's rather than being sold to plug financial holes.

Unfortunately, although Cortese is backing up his vision with continuing levels of investment in training facilities that already rank among the best, there are no Xavis or Iniestas with Hampshire accents on the verge of a first-team breakthrough. So the financial muscle bequeathed to the club by the late owner, Markus Liebherr, will have to be deployed on the first-team squad in the short term.

But a strong vote of confidence came last year when Saturday's outstanding performer Adam Lallana, 23, chose to commit himself to Southampton. "I owe the club everything," he said. "It gave me a chance. I got relegated with the club three years ago and to now be in the best league in the world, I'm just delighted. It's been a graft but it's where we want to be because we have big support, financially and from the fans, so why can't we stay there? If we keep things going we are going to do well, and not just survive. Norwich have, Swansea have. We work for each other and we have got the rewards today."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003