Just before the bottom of the table clash on Saturday the 17th of November 2012 at Loftus Road between Queens Park Rangers and Southampton many had cruelly dubbed it ‘the Layoff Final’ and ‘El Sackico’. True to form, shortly after Southampton had secured a deserved 3-1 win in front of just over 18,174 people, Sky bet made Mark Hughes ¼ on to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked.
Hughes was not even afforded that distinction because quickly after Chelsea were convincingly beaten 3-0 away to Juventus in their UEFA Champions League group game, Roman Abramovich made Roberto Di Matteo the first Premier League manager to lose his job in the 2012/13 season. However, Hughes did not survive for much longer because on the morning of Friday the 23rd of November 2012 the eve of their match away to Manchester United, Tony Fernandes informed Hughes of the news that we were all expecting, that his services were no longer required.
On the other hand, Southampton seem to have been rejuvenated by that result in mid-November because as the stats show Southampton have gone on a run of seven league games which has only a solitary defeat, a 1-0 loss at the hands of Sunderland last month. Furthermore, that run of seven league games has seen them concede only seven goals and keeping a couple of clean sheets in the process. In stark contrast to their previous seven games before the QPR clash which saw them only pick up 5 points from a possible 21 and concede 15 during those run of games. Adkins must take lots of credit for this because he hasn’t rested on his laurels after leading the Saints to back-to-back promotions. He always talks in a positive and optimistic manner after each game whether it is a heavy defeat, draw or a slender win he is always upbeat in his post-match interviews.
A slight tactical change and a more regimented template blended in with his core philosophies of slick passing and a confidence to express themselves when in possession of the ball has led to them being tighter at the back which in turn has meant that they are not leaking in goals as carelessly as they were earlier in the season. Yesterday Southampton hosted Arsenal, in the corresponding fixture in September Southampton’s defence was brutally exposed as they were hammered 6-1 at the Emirates. On this occasion Southampton showed just how far they have come and that they are getting better as the season progresses.