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.

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map