You know when your manager has resorted to reciting poetry in the pre-match press briefings that things aren’t going too well for his team on the pitch.
In an act of meek defiance (if indeed that is the right word) last seen when ‘England manager’ Mike Bassett quoted the famous Rudyard Kipling poem ‘If’, Southampton boss Nigel Adkins ended an interview ahead of his side’s match against Tottenham Hotspur by giving a rendition of ‘The Man in the Glass’ by Dale Wimbrow.
But you know, Ricky Tomlinson was the star in a spoof comedy film. This was a Premier League manager and while on the one hand, it was nice to see that someone involved in football is actually reading something other than the Daily Star and quoting something else apart from what happened on ‘Made in Chelsea’ last week, it has to be said it had all the hallmarks of a man losing the plot.
What his players made of it is anyone’s guess, although it is fair to assume they wouldn’t be too impressed, and all it did was give even more credence to the theory that Adkins is on borrowed time. And more to the point, he knows it too.
In many ways, that is incredibly harsh. The former Scunthorpe boss has just masterminded back-to-back promotions from League One to the top flight and there was always the chance that Southampton would find the quick rise from the third tier to the country’s elite difficult to cope with.
But the manner in which they are going about playing in the Premier League suggests that their stay will almost certainly be a brief one. The Saints have four points and lie rock bottom after the draw between QPR and Reading yesterday. But it is not so much the lack of wins that is concerning, it is the way they are losing goals that means Southampton will be playing Championship football next year.
No team in Premier League history have let in as many goals as Southampton at this stage of the season and with 26 conceded in nine games, they would end up letting in 110 goals by the the end of the season if this ratio were to continue.
But the worst thing for Saints fans is that there is no sign of anything changing. Adkins will seemingly not change his philosophy and he doesn’t have the players to shore up that leaky defence.
It points to a long, long season and their next match away at West Bromwich Albion doesn’t give them much respite. Saints are 4/1 to pick up a first away win this season, with the draw at 29/10 and West Brom at 31/50, and you have to be on the home side all day long here.
The Baggies might have lost their last two league games, both to last-minute goals, but those defeats at home to Manchester City and away to Newcastle were unfortunate – especially the defeat on Tyneside – and returning to the Hawthorns should see Albion get back to winning ways.
Only the champions have picked up more points at home in the league than West Brom as Steve Clarke looks to build a solid campaign on the foundations of solid form in the Black Country and with Southampton having lost all four away fixtures, conceding 14 goals in the process, the Baggies look sure things here.
I like the odds-on shout, but if you want a bit more value, then get on the 6/5 that West Brom win and the match has over 2.5 goals. New customers can claim a free £20 bet when registering with bwin and placing it on this selection would return £44 if successful.
The rationale for this tip is pretty solid, as only one of Southampton’s nine games so far has seen less than three goals and there have been more goals in the Saints’ games (40) than any other team barring Manchester United, who also hit the 40 mark with their 2-1 win over Arsenal.
There have been an average of 5.25 goals in their away games, most of them in Southampton’s net, and West Brom and three or more goals looks a great shout at 13/10.