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Managerial Runners and Riders

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There's been plenty of speculation over who will be named Alan Pardew's successor in the Saints hotseat, so let's have a look through some of the main players, in no particular order:

Martin O'Neill
Current Odds: 8/1 (Victor Chandler)

O'Neill recently resigned his post as Aston Villa manager following a "disagreement in policy and direction" with club chairman/owner Randy Lerner. In recent past, he's been linked with the England job, as well as the hotseat at Liverpool before Roy Hodgson's appointment. With those recent links, it's not hard to see why this one would appear to be a bit of a long-shot. His relationship with his chairman would also be a concern, and as a relatively "traditional" British manager, the Ulsterman would surely insist on complete control of first-team affairs, including transfers.

Then of course there's the small matter of the drop from 6th place in the Premier League to mid-table in the third tier. However, the rumours on this one don't seem to be going away, and his odds had come in to as little as evens with SkyBet earlier this morning.

Verdict: Unlikely, but would be very popular

Nigel Adkins
Current Odds: 8/11 favourite (SkyBet)

Adkins is something of an unsung hero in management circles, having inherited his role at S****horpe United following the departure of Brian Laws in 2006. With the striking duo of Billy Sharp and Andy Keogh, he took Scunny up as champions of League One. While he was unable to keep them in the Championship, they bounced back immediately with a playoff victory over Millwall at Wembley. Progress can be clearly seen here as Adkins led them to safety last season, predominantly thanks to another frontline partnership, this time in the shape of Paul Hayes (now at Preston) and Gary Hooper (now at Celtic).

With the loss of those key players, you would assume they'd be a lost cause. However, the acquisition of Chris Dagnall from Rochdale is a shrewd one, and Adkins seems able to find rough gems in the wilderness and turn them into diamonds, so if he were to remain at Glanford Park, you wouldn't bet against them making it a third successive season in the Championship. Not bad for a club with a budget smaller than half of the sides in League One.

The key question in terms of his links to the Saints job is whether he would be able to handle the massively increased levels of expectation and pressure. He's been in a relatively comfortable position at Scunny, having been employed as a physio prior to taking the manager's job on as caretaker initially, with very little budget to work with and precious few egos in the dressing room.

It would be fair to say that, while the end goal of promotion remains the same, the parameters will be a world apart. The club have made it clear in statements that they expect the team to play in the "Southampton style", whatever that is. He will also be expected to fit into the club management structure that is now in place, which includes Les Reed as the Executive Director of the "Football Development and Support Centre", David Burke as the Scouting and Talent Identification Manager (i.e. chief scout), and of course the executive chairman, Nicola Cortese. If he can fit into that, he's likely to be the main man in the frame, although questions would be asked as to whether, as a manager, he is an improvement on his predecessor.

Verdict: Seems highly likely, but wouldn't attract a particularly big crowd

Eddie Howe
Current Odds: 20/1 (Paddy Power)

The job Eddie Howe has done at Bournemouth is difficult to understate, really. He took over on New Years Eve in 2008 with the club second-bottom in League Two having been hit with a 17-point deduction for failing to exit administration with a CVA, and seemingly on their way to a second consecutive relegation after Kevin Bond and Jimmy Quinn both failed to arrest the club's slide. Despite that massive points deduction, he still managed to keep them up with two games to spare, all while under a transfer embargo that wouldn't even allow loan players.

That same embargo was in place for the majority of last season as well, and with resources at breaking point, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time when the early-season form bubble would burst and they'd have to settle for midtable mediocrity. However, that never seemed to materialise, despite a few iffy one-off results (4-0 defeat at home to Rochdale, 5-0 at Morecambe, where they'd won 4-0 the previous year). Howe was linked with the Peterborough job after the bizarre departure of Darren Ferguson - which bears similarities to Pardew's dismissal here - but he remained at Dean Court and earned himself a promotion in his first full season as a manager.

Rumours have suggested that he's interested in the Saints job, and similar questions would be asked of him as with Nigel Adkins in terms of dealing with bigger budgets and expectations. He doesn't have the same level of experience as Adkins, though, so that will probably count against him at this stage.

Verdict: would be a fairly popular choice as a prominent up-and-coming manager, but unlikely in the current circumstances

Phil Brown
Current Odds: 11/4 (Victor Chandler)

Brown has been (probably fairly) labelled as a bit of an inconsistent manager during his relatively short career. He made his name in the game as Sam Allardyce's right-hand man at Bolton Wanderers before taking the manager's job at Derby. Financial problems blighted his time there, and he only lasted 33 games before being replaced by George Burley.

He was a slightly surprising appointment at Hull City, given that experience, when he replaced the sacked Phil Parkinson (in the wake of a 4-2 defeat to Saints at the KC Stadium), but he managed to steady the ship there in the second half of the season to ensure they stayed up, and then despite a fairly average start to the following season, led them to the top flight for the first time in their history with a playoff final win over Bristol City.

They famously made a fantastic start to the season, and were in the top 4 of the Premier League for a number of weeks following away wins at both Arsenal and Tottenham, but things all started to go pear-shaped following a Boxing Day defeat at Manchester City. Hull were already 4-0 down at half-time, and Brown decided that he would conduct his team talk on the Eastlands pitch in front of the visiting supporters. It was from this point that those in the know claim he lost the dressing room, and they only won one league game in the second half of the season. However, the implosion of Newcastle United saved them from the drop by a solitary point, and they earned another season in the top flight.

Despite being up against a Pompey basket case and a noticeably weak Burnley side in the relegation dogfight the following season, Hull struggled to keep their heads above water, and when former chairman Adam Pearson returned in March, he was placed on gardening leave until the end of the season, with Iain Dowie installed as caretaker. He was unable to keep them up, and both Brown and Dowie left the club in the summer.

His character certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea, and the Man City episode leaves a lot to be desired in terms of his man-management, but if he has learned some humility in his relatively brief time out of the game, there's potentially a very good Football League manager in that fake-tanned body of his. He wouldn't necessarily be a particularly popular choice, and alongside his predecessor, it doesn't stack up too well, but he would be a strong personality in the dressing room, which may be what is required in the current situation.

Verdict: In the balance, but would ensure the fanbase is divided for a while longer

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