Southampton: Should Adkins be axed?
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has steered the Saints to two successive promotions to lead them back to the Premier League but even before a ball was kicked the former Scunthorpe physio turned boss was the bookies' favourite to be the first top flight boss to be axed.
Saturday's 6-1 annihilation at Arsenal, combined with the fact that they are the only side without a point so far this season, has piled the pressure on the 47-year-old and there are real fears that Adkins could well be on his way out of St Mary's sooner rather than later.
But should the board stick with the man who took them back to the top table or should they act now before it's too late?
Before Nigel Adkins came along the Saints were languishing in the third tier of English football. He joined the Saints on September 12, 2010, replacing Alan Pardew after losing five of their first eight league and cup games. It took the former Scunthorpe chief three games to win his first game - away at Sheffield Wednesday - but the Saints lost just six more league games through the rest of the campaign to seal promotion back to the Championship. Adkins and Southampton were looking like the perfect match.
His great work continued in the Championship, beating Leeds United on the opening day - the first time in 12 years that they had opened a league campaign with a win. And it got better and better as he won nine out of his first 10 league and cup games. The Saints were the team to beat and, although Reading eventually overtook them to the title, Southampton sealed their return to the top flight.
So having done all the hard work in getting them to the Premier League I believe Adkins deserves a chance to turn things around. He has already won a number of admirers for having a real go at Manchester City and Manchester United, however, they are not the ones paying his wages and with the future of Southampton Football Club in their hands.
Adkins has an exciting squad of players at his disposal and created a great team spirit, but they are in dire need of a break. They have already conceded 14 goals and goal difference can be a huge factor come the end of the season.
The Premier League is an unforgiven beast, as the Saints have found out to their cost. You may be 2-1 up with 10 minutes remaining, but you are never safe in this league until the final whistle is blown. But it's not just the big clubs that you have to worry about. Even the likes of Wigan can cause a shock on their day. Not too many people expected them to beat Southampton, even though they have been Premier League regulars now since 2005.
All newly promoted sides want to hit the ground running in the top flight, but I have a sneaky feeling that the Premier League fixture computer must have a soft spot for rivals Portsmouth as the Saints couldn't have asked for a tougher opening. Manchester City away, Wigan at home, Manchester United at home and Arsenal away. Why didn't they just throw in Barcelona and Real Madrid just for the hell of it!
I know you have to play these teams at some stage in the season, but to face three Champions League sides in your first four is a real baptism of fire.
Nobody really expected Southampton to gain anything from City, United or Arsenal, but they would have looked at the Wigan game and thought they could take something from them, especially after their confidence was so high following their opener against City. To lose at home to Roberto Martinez's side was a real blow, but their season starts now. They have a decent run of games now up until before Christmas, starting with Aston Villa at home on Saturday, a trip to Goodison and a home clash with Fulham before the international break.
However, even though Adkins has a 59 per cent win percentage at St Mary's - the best since Alfie McMinn in 1897 - I fear Adkins may well get the boot if he fails to win one of those games.
The pressure on Premier League chairman is huge, especially this season as the money from the new television deals will be shelled out next year to those still in the top flight. Southampton do not want to be missing out on that and may be forced to act.
Rumours linking former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez with a move to St Mary's is a worrying one for Nigel Adkins. Sure he may have led the Saints to back-to-back promotions, but Benitez is a Champions League winner. How can he compete with that?
Football is a cut-throat business and there's not a lot of room for sentiment. Adkins will know that more than anyone. But if you were in Nicola Cortese's boots, what would you do?
Calling all Southampton fans: Do you think Nigel Adkins should be axed or do you think he deserves to be given time to turn things around? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.