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.

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
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

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game