This weekend will see Southampton travel to Newcastle to face a side managed by Alan Pardew, the man who started the Saints' revival. It will be the second time Saints come up against Pardew since his departure, having beat his Magpies 2-0 earlier in the season. Pardew divides opinion amongst Saints fans, but I think he does deserve some recognition for the job he did, as he undoubtedly helped turn the club around. However, there were also shortcomings and the decision to replace him with Nigel Adkins proved to be a good one.
Firstly, there's the signings he made. Key members of the current squad including Rickie Lambert, Jose Fonte and Jason Puncheon arrived during his tenure, while others like Dean Hammond, Dan Harding and Lee Barnard played important roles in our successive promotions.
There's also, of course, results on the pitch, and to a certain extent Pardew excelled here. The league form was impressive, although that'll be focused on later, but the cup form was better. Pardew lead Saints to the Johstone's Paint Trophy final, where we won our first silverware since 1976.
One of the most obvious shortcomings of Pardew's time as manager was that Saints didn't get promotion. Of course there were mitigating circumstances; such as the ten point deduction and the fact he was still assembling his side after the season had begun. However, even without the points deduction his team got nine fewer points than Adkins' side did the following season, and with little more investment. Danny Butterfield, replacing the departed Lloyd James and Jon Otsemobor, and Guly Do Prado were the only two major additions Adkins had. Pardew's league form was good, but you'd expect that with the budget he had, and Adkins proved it could be bettered.
Not only did Adkins achieve better results, he also did it in style with a team who liked to pass the ball. Under Pardew the style of football was alright, but nothing special. It was usually quite direct and relied heavily on long balls towards Lambert, although to call it 'long ball' football would be doing it a disservice. Compared to what we've seen under Adkins, Pochettino and even Jan Poortvliet it was not too appealing.