Shocked, saddened, astounded, dumbfounded and dejected. They are just some of the words I would use to describe how I felt when I found out about the sacking of Nigel Adkins. Thoughts echoed by Luke Shaw, who perhaps foolishly tweeted: "Very confused lol".
Adkins is without doubt a Southampton legend, and has done an incredible job as Saints' manager. Under his guidance we have risen 51 league places, gaining back-to-back promotions in the process. He's got the best win percentage of any Southampton manager in the post-war and over the 'Castrol Index' rates him as the second-best manager in the country over the last two seasons, behind only Sir Alex Ferguson.
Adkins hasn't just achieved results, he's done it in style. Since he took over from Alan Pardew, Saints' style of play has changed from direct and unglamorous brand to dynamic, exciting, possession-based football. Professionalism on and off the pitch was one of the main things Adkins emphasised. His Saints side were statistically the fittest in the Championship last year and I'd image are similarly placed this campaign in the Premier League. His positivity though, infectious and constant, was his most defining characteristic.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the sacking is its timing. Had Adkins been let go when Saints were bottom of the table and in a rut it would've been more understandable, but now? We're fifteenth, have only lost two of our last 12 league games and are yet to suffer a league defeat this year. The timing is explained though after hearing new man Mauricio Pochettino speak, this was a planned and calculated move by chairman Nicola Cortese. He wasn't going to sack Nigel until a new man was ready.
I don't agree with Adkins's sacking and nor do many. It's left quite a few disillusioned but he can leave with his head high; he's a true Southampton legend.