LONDON: Nigel Adkins, after the encouragement of a midweek draw at Chelsea, has been sacked by promoted, struggling Southampton – a club from which the news leaked out before the ex-manager was told himself.

Adkins, who had led led the club from the lower reaches of League One to the Premier League in less than two years, has been replaced by Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino. Bookmakers immediately cut Southampton’s odds to be relegated.

A managerial switch appeared in the air in ¬†November after eight defeats in Southampton’s first 10 Premier League matches but Southampton then eased away from the relegation places, losing only twice in 12 league matches.

However it now appears that Pochettino, the 40-year-old who left Spanish side Espanyol in November, was already earmarked for the succession.

Adkins had takien over two years ago with the 22nd in the third division. They won promotion to the Championship and then joined the top flight at the first attempt. Now it is Pochettino who will take charge against Everton on Monday.

Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese said: “This decision has been made with the long-term ambitions of Southampton Football Club in mind. Whilst we acknowledge the contribution Nigel has made during the past two years, for the club to progress and achieve our long-term targets a change was needed.

“Mauricio is a well-respected coach of substantial quality who has gained a reputation as an astute tactician and excellent man manager. I have every confidence that he will inspire our talented squad of players to perform at the highest possible level.”

Pochettino played for Espanyol and Paris Saint-Germain as a defender during his career, and won 20 caps for Argentina, fouling Michael Owen at the 2002 World Cup to give England a penalty which was converted by David Beckham.

Pochettino said: “This is the kind of opportunity that any coach would relish. Southampton is a club with great heritage, and an even more exciting future. There is a clear vision to take the club to a new era of sustained success in the Premier League, and beyond, which I’m delighted to be part of.”

Pochettino took charge of Espanyol at the age of 36 in January 2009, and managed a best finish of eighth in La Liga in 2010-11. He left the club by mutual consent at the end of November 2012, with an overall record of 49 wins from 146 league matches.

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