Nigel Adkins is ready to launch a late survival bid at Reading.
In one of the more surprising of sackings this season, the 48-year-old was dismissed by Southampton in January despite leading them from League One to the Premier League in successive seasons. What made the decision all the more of a shock is the fact that at the time, the Saints had lost just two of their last dozen matches.
Adkins has now been appointed as the manager of Reading, who axed Brian McDermott earlier this month. The Royals, who like Southampton were promoted last season, are seven points adrift of safety with just eight matches remaining. But having recharged his batteries over the past couple of months, their new boss is well up for the battle.
“I am pleased to be the Reading manager,” Adkins told a press conference. “We will take it one game at a time and try and keep this club in the Premier League. It’s a good club, I’ve been impressed with them and I’ve always known what sort of club it is. We’re in the Premier League and we want to stay there. I am excited.
“It’s one game at a time and the next one is Arsenal. I am looking to the future, I’ve had two months out and gone around Europe, I’m excited about the future and passionate about playing football. We all have to pull in the same direction and it is a great challenge.”
In one of those funny quirks which seem to happen a lot in football, Adkins’ first match at the Madejski Stadium will be against his former club on 6 April, a match which will be shown live on Sky Sports. That will be a week after their trip to the Emirates Stadium, and they also have to visit Norwich City, Fulham and West Ham United before the end of the season.
If they are to pull off an unlikely escape act and clinch survival, much will depend on their home form, which has made up four of their five wins this season. As well as the visit of the Saints, other teams who are yet to travel to Reading are Liverpool, bottom club Queens Park Rangers, and reigning champions Manchester City.