One of the main criticisms of modern football is that the loyalty of bygone eras is no longer evident.
This is an age where players and managers swap clubs more frequently than they change their underwear.
But today, Thursday 9th September 2010, one man displayed an act of loyalty rarely seen in the modern game.
Southampton Football Club have, in the last 14 years, had no fewer than 15 managers. By contrast, Scunthorpe United have had just two.
Following the sacking of Alan Pardew last week, Saints approached Scunthorpe about appointing their manager Nigel Adkins.
In four years at the Glanford Park helm, Adkins has become the club’s most successful manager ever, getting them promoted to the second tier of English football twice, and on the latter occasion, keeping them there.
That also involved passing Southampton, who dropped into League One having been a Premier League club as recently as 2005.
With Adkins drawing admiring glances from many quarters following his miracle work with a tight budget at Scunthorpe, it was only a matter of time before a so-called ‘big club’ came in for his services, and that happened overnight as Adkins agreed terms to take the Southampton job.
Of course, it would be a step backwards in terms of dropping down a division, but it would mean taking over a club who are backed by wealthy owners, who draw in crowds of over 20,000 each game, and who could offer Adkins a significant pay rise and a healthy transfer kitty.
But with Saints seemingly unwilling to pay compensation to Scunthorpe for the services of their manager, they allegedly asked him to resign from his post so that he could move to St Mary’s for free.
Adkins, who has been at Scunthorpe for 14 years (he was the club’s physio for a decade before becoming manager), and who has a settled family life in North Lincolnshire, rejected the Southampton board’s demand.
Out of respect for the club that had given him his chance in English football management, and the place where he has created so much history, he said no.
“He wanted to walk out of Glanford Park with his head held high”, said Scunthorpe chairman Steve Wharton.
If he’d handed in his notice and jumped ship, Adkins would have just been one of the others. But he didn’t, he stuck to his principles, and while it appears to have cost him the chance of a ‘bigger’ job, it has certainly added another huge plus to his already immaculate C.V. The man is loyal, and won’t be bullied into doing something he doesn’t want to.
Perhaps this goes to show that after all, maybe there are still some genuine people left in football. Nigel Adkins is certainly a glowing testament to that notion.