Amazing how a manager considered unfit for purpose at one club seeking to maintain Premier League status can find himself hired to save another. Welcome to management on the hoof football style. Two months after being cast aside at Southampton for the latest, must-have coaching accessory from Spain, Nigel Adkins is handed a three-year deal at Reading to replace the man who brought them into the top flight, Brian McDermott. Bonkers.
Adkins, of course, should still be in the post at St Mary’s after guiding Southampton to successive promotions and establishing a template of high-tempo, quick-passing football. But that is not how the knee-jerk, unthinking world of the football boardroom works, and as such Adkins departure is still a matter for the League Managers’ Association fighting a claim of unfair dismissal.
Similarly, the qualities that saw McDermott carry Reading to promotion last year have not gone away in the space of eight months. For either club to survive in the context of a stacked economic deck is arguably a question of luck as much as anything, the odd break here and there in close matches against similarly hampered sides.
Of course Mauricio Pochettino is doing a decent job at St Mary’s. He is a fine coach working with talented young players. Just as Adkins was. Now Adkins must start over again at Reading, unpicking the work and habits of the last man in order to establish his own. Reading have been destabilised as a result and their chances of staying up arguably diminished.
Meanwhile McDermott is left to sit out time somewhere quiet while his credentials gather momentum relative to some other poor sap about to get the chop. When that happens McDermott will be invited to take over, handed a three-year contract in a blaze of impossible optimism, and the whole, sorry cycle repeats ad infinitum.