London – Southampton sacked manager Nigel Adkins on Friday and replaced him with Argentine Mauricio Pochettino in a surprise move that came just as their Premier League results were starting to improve.
The dismissal comes two days after Southampton fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with European champions Chelsea as part of a turnaround in fortunes in a run where they have lost just twice in their last 12 Premier League games.
The club sit 15th in the table, three points above the relegation zone.
"This decision has been made with the long-term ambitions of Southampton Football Club in mind," executive chairman Nicola Cortese said in a statement on the club's website www.saintsfc.co.uk.
"Whilst we acknowledge the contribution Nigel has made during the past two years, for the club to progress and achieve our long-term targets a change was needed."
Adkins joined the south-coast club in 2010 and oversaw back-to-back promotions from League One and then the Championship to take them back to the top-flight for the first time since their 2005 relegation.
Southampton wasted no time in appointing his successor, turning to 40-year-old former Espanyol manager Pochettino, who left the Spanish club in November.
"Mauricio is a well-respected coach of substantial quality who has gained a reputation as an astute tactician and excellent man manager," Cortese said.
"I have every confidence that he will inspire our talented squad of players to perform at the highest possible level."
Pochettino's first game in charge will be Monday's Premier League at home to Everton.
"This is the kind of opportunity that any coach would relish," the former Argentina international said in a statement.
"Southampton is a club with great heritage, and an even more exciting future. There is a clear vision to take the club to a new era of sustained success in the Premier League, and beyond, which I'm delighted to be part of." – Reuters