Sympathy was abounding for Nigel Adkins when he was sacked from Southampton.
The former physio had the Saints in good form and Premier League survival looked a real possibility. Adkins now finds himself at bottom placed Reading and his first home game against his former employers on Saturday morning will fill most of the narrative, but his successor in the away dugout has a chance to write another chapter in his own story.
Mauricio Pochettino was a surprise appointment, having endured a fairly unremarkable spell in charge at Espanyol in Spain, but closer examination showed that he had the other side in Barcelona punching well above their weight.
In his short spell in charge at St. Mary’s so far, there have been remarkable wins over defending champions Manchester City, European champions Chelsea, and sleeping giants Liverpool.
However, losses against relegation rivals Newcastle, QPR, and draws with Norwich and Wigan have meant Southampton have yet to fully extract themselves from the battle at the bottom, something Pochettino is well aware of.
Speaking to The Daily Mail, he said: "We had a chance to win in every game, like we did against Everton and Wigan.
"Against Manchester City and Liverpool we were a lot more effective in front of goal.
"We lacked that kind of effectiveness against the smaller sides."
There is a lot to admire in the way Southampton have shown no fear against the big boys, and if they can beat the teams in and around them they will not only be safe this season, but enter next season full of confidence of challenging far higher up the league.
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