Match Report: Nigel Adkins airbrushed out as new Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino shows promise against Everton

Southampton 0 Everton 0

A goalless draw at home may seem a small step on the path to realising the “global ambitions” which led Southampton to sack Nigel Adkins after he had won successive promotions, but this was a better opening to the Mauricio Pochettino era than the scoreline suggests.

Not only did Southampton outplay Champions-League chasing Everton but the home support appeared to accept the new coach with minimal protest. When he quietly came onto the pitch (even Southampton were not so brazen as to parade the new man) Pochettino was even greeted with a smattering of applause and while this was swiftly drowned out by chants of "One Nigel Adkins" the protests were hardly the stuff of mutiny. The mooted handkerchief-waving never happened and though a few placards remembered Adkins it was nothing like the response at Chelsea to Roberto Di Matteo's replacement by Rafael Benitez.

"I'm happy how the fans have greeted me, and how the players have greeted me, and I just want to focus on my work," Pochettino said. "That's what I'm here to do. I have the maximum respect for the previous manager. It's never nice to take over from another manager who's been let go, but that's just how it's been."

Maybe, having been at Stamford Bridge last week and seen for themselves the effect on players of such protests, Saints fans looked at the bigger picture and decided to settle for backing their team. Not that the club were taking any chances. The BBC reported that club stewards had been ordered not to comment on the sacking if asked about it by fans, while reporters were told not to conduct vox pops of supporters on club land.

This Orwellian approach was reflected in the club programme. There was no mention of Adkins anywhere in its 76 pages and you needed to search very hard to find the one tiny image in a collection of photographs of Southampton's match at Chelsea.

Authoritarian chairman Nicola Cortese kept his own counsel as usual but Pochettino was in the programme. He wrote: "I understand there are high expectations of this club, but it does not scare me in the slightest, in fact, it thrills me because I believe that this is a team capable of competing with the best in Europe. I am looking forward to pushing Southampton onto the world stage and recognising its global ambitions." Comments like invite hubris of the sort that followed Peter Kenyon when he said Chelsea would be in a league of one but they will be very-much on-message with Cortese.

Adkins may be a non-person officially but his presence was very much apparent on the pitch in the team's make-up and approach. If he watched this match he will have felt pride in the way his players (they will still feel like "his" players) tore Everton apart for 45 minutes, but perhaps also some relief that his hastily-installed successor did not start with the victory their first-half control merited.

Pochettino made two changes, bringing in Ricky Lambert and Gaston Ramirez but both had been involved at Chelsea and frequently played under Adkins. The new signing, Norwegian defender Vegard Forren, was not in the squad.

The team's neat passing and ball rotation was as familiar as the team-sheet, this is the way Adkins had approached the Premier League, trusting his players to play their way our of a poor start. Two defeats in 12 under the-one-who-cannot -be-named had imbued the team with confidence as well as lifting them up the table and Saints dominated from the start.

Lambert, a boyhood Liverpool fan should have had a first-half hat-trick. Having nearly induced Phil Jagielka into putting into his own net after four minutes, he whipped a 30-yard free-kick against the post, then he skinned Jagielka on the right only for Tim Howard to beat his shot away. Next, after Howard had denied Ramirez with an athletic save, he headed a 37th-minute corner past the goalkeeper only for Nikica Jelavic and Leighton Baines to make a superb goal-line stop. Jos Hooiveld blasted the rebound into Howard's chest. Finally, Lambert put a free header wide and Everton, who had tested Artur Boruc only once, through Steven Naismith, headed for a dressing room dressing down from David Moyes.

The second period, inevitably, was very different. Boruc twice denied Marouane Fellaini before Jelavic somehow miskicked after Victor Anichebe delivered the perfect cross. Anichebe tested Boruc himself and the returning Kevin Mirallas went close. "We had a really good chance which I expected us to convert so I'm disappointed not to win," said Moyes, "but at half-time I was delighted to come in at 0-0."

Saints now go away to Barcelona for Pochettino to find out about his squad before returning to play both Manchester clubs. He is not daunted. "I relish the hard start," he said. "I enjoy them, and I'd prefer it to be that way. Bring it on."

Substitutions: Southampton Rodriguez (Guly, 62), Davis (Ramirez, 71), De Ridder (Puncheon, 87). Everton Anichebe (Coleman, 58), Mirallas (Jelavic, 67). Bookings: Southampton Hooiveld, Schneiderlin. Everton Osman. Man of the match Howard. Match rating 7/10. Possession: Southampton 53%. Everton 47%. Attempts on target: Southampton 4. Everton 5. Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire). Attendance 28,359.

News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
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.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us