Mauricio Pochettino, the new Southampton manager, last night diplomatically paid tribute to the work of his predecessor, Nigel Adkins, and thanked the players and supporters for their backing during what was an encouraging Premier League debut.
Southampton were the dominant side for long periods of the match against Everton as they delivered a performance to suggest that Pochettino, even while he is learning English, will have little difficulty both in conveying his ideas and winning over the Southampton dressing room.
The Argentinian described the circumstances of his sudden arrival in England as “complex” but said that he had huge respect for the achievements of Adkins, who was sacked on Friday despite leading Southampton to consecutive promotions.
“The fans showed me a great reception,” Pochettino said. “I want to say thank-you to the players and to the fans for making the effort to be here and the backing they have shown the team.
“It is never nice to take over from a manager that has been let go but that has been how it has been. I was offered a job, offered an opportunity and I have taken it.”
Adkins was not mentioned in the match-day programme and his name was sporadically sung last night by the supporters, although expected protests did not materialise.
Pochettino said that he understood the supportersÔÇÖ decision to chant AdkinsÔÇÖs name.
“I have the maximum respect for the previous manager, I have the maximum respect for people saying whatever they want to say,” he said. “It is the maximum expression of freedom to say what they want to say. I think that is normal when someone has been here a few seasons.
“I credit the previous manager and the work he did. I now want to focus on my tenure and the future under me.”
Pochettino also showed his humour in the post-match press conference after Southampton midfielder Jason Puncheon had to leave the pitch during the second half for an emergency toilet break.
“He was feeling a bit unstable and needed to go to the loo,” he said, smiling. “It was an anxious day, a nervy day. Whenever there is a new manager the players want to impress and the nerves can get the better of you.”
David Moyes, the Everton manager, said that the first half had been his teamÔÇÖs poorest 45 minutes of the season.
“But credit to Southampton,” he said. “They are probably on their best run of the season.”