Pochettino vows to win over Saints fans

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 00:00

Soccer: New Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino promised to try and win over his club's fans with "hard work and honesty" after his whirlwind appointment.

The 40-year-old replaced Nigel Adkins in the St Mary's hotseat this morning, with the popular Adkins sacked despite taking the club to 15th in the Barclays Premier League after back-to-back promotions.

Former captain Matt Le Tissier and a lot of the club's fans have reacted angrily to the news, but Pochettino has pledged to try and cool the mood with results on the pitch.

The former Espanyol manager spoke largely through an interpreter, but did say in English: "I am very happy to be here in this amazing weather. It happened quickly, small details are not important, it's important I'm here at this project and club."

He added in Spanish: "They have done really well in the Premiership. In Spain we follow it closely. I am a great admirer of English football and am happy to be here."

Pochettino, a 20-cap Argentina international in his playing days, added he had spoken to Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho about the move, while conceding he has to address the issue of supporter unrest.

"The challenge is to be part of this project, the kindness of the supporters is the biggest challenge I have," he said at a news conference. "They are the biggest part of this club and I hope I can convince them with honest and hard work. I am very passionate about the Premier League. I have seen many games, the Premier League is an attractive league and I have spoken to people at length about it, people such as Jose Mourinho, who is a good friend of mine.

"He told me the best football in the world is being played here."

In making the decision, executive chairman Nicola Cortese said he was looking at the long-term future of the club.

The Saints drew 2-2 at European champions Chelsea on Wednesday night - a considerable feat seeing as they were in the League One relegation zone when Adkins took the job in September 2010.

"This decision has been made with the long-term ambitions of Southampton Football Club in mind," said Cortese in a statement. "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.

"He also shares my belief that the most successful clubs are built by nurturing young players through a development system that provides a clear path to the first team, thereby creating a culture that keeps them at the club for the long term. This is an approach he has employed with great success in the past and I look forward to him bringing that experience and expertise to Southampton."

Pochettino, the former Argentina international, will take charge of Southampton for Monday's game against Everton after his first training session with the Saints squad on Saturday.

"This is the kind of opportunity that any coach would relish," he said in a statement. "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."

Adkins joined Southampton from Scunthorpe in 2010 and he guided the Saints into the Premier League with back-to-back promotions.

Southampton started slowly on their return to the top flight but Adkins departs with the club three points outside the relegation zone after a run of just two defeats from their last 12 league games.

Adkins' final game in charge was Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Chelsea, when Southampton came from two goals down to claim a point.

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