Nigel Adkins is a former footballer and current manager. He was born in Birkenhead on 11th March 1965. Adkins was a goalkeeper and began his career with his local side Tranmere in 1983. He played 86 times for the Prenton Park side before moving to Wigan in 1986. Adkins appeared 155 times for The Latics, but his playing career was cut short when he suffered a double spinal fracture.
Adkins had ambitions to become a manager from a very young age, having first coached a Sunday league side at the age of 16. He was given his first job as boss with League of Wales side Bangor City in 1993. Adkins led the Welsh side to two consecutive championship wins in his first two years at the club, as well as a League Cup final in 1994. The club qualified for Europe twice after winning those titles, but were eliminated at the preliminary stages on both occasions. Bangor were majorly handicapped by the three foreigners rule, and with much of Adkins squad made up of Englishmen, he was unable to put out a full strength side.
Adkins joined Scunthorpe United as physio in 1996, having previously gained a degree in physiotherapy from the University of Salford. Adkins remained in that position for ten years, until Scunny manager Brian Laws was poached by Sheffield Wednesday in November 2006. Adkins was initially placed in temporary charge following Laws departure, but was given the job on a permanent basis on December 6th 2006 after two wins and a draw in his caretaker spell. Adkins was quick to make his mark at the club, and adopted more of a passing style. The Iron had previously been a fairly direct side under former boss Laws. Adkins lost just three league matches in 2006/07 and ended the season with a League 1 winner's medal. An impressive 19 game unbeaten run between December and April set Scunny apart from the rest that campaign.
Adkins lost his star striker Billy Sharp in the 2007/08 close season, when Sheffield United paid £2,000,000 for the forward who scored an incredible 32 times in The Iron's title winning season. Sharp was the second big name front man to leave Glanford Park in recent times, after Andy Keogh had departed for Wolves the previous January. Adkins reinvested the money received from Sharp and Keogh to bring in Martin Paterson from Stoke for a record fee of £425,000. He also brought in Izzy Iriekpen, Paul Hayes and Jonathan Forte. Despite having the smallest budget in the division, Scunthorpe made a decent start to the Championship campaign, and were sat in 9th place at the end of October. A poor run that lasted until February saw Adkins side pick up just one win in seventeen matches though, which put Scunthorpe well adrift in the bottom two for the remainder of the campaign. January signings Ben May, Grant McCann and Kevin Horlock were unable to prevent a 23rd place finish. Despite being officially the second worst outfit in the division, Scunny won many fans with their attractive style of football, and often dominated possession in games only to come up short in the final third of the pitch.
Despite The Iron's relegation back to League 1, Adkins remained a favourite with the Glanford Park crowd, who would chant "Who needs Mourinho? We've got our physio!" Adkins was able to retain the services of most of his squad for the 2008/09 campaign, as well as adding the likes of Gary Hooper, Martyn Woolford and Sam Togwell, who were key men in Scunny's promotion through the play-offs that season. Hooper netted 30 times, forming a formidable partnership with Paul Hayyes. Adkins led Scunthorpe to The Football League Trophy final, which they lost to Luton 3-2 after extra time, despite taking an early lead. After securing a 6th place finish, his side returned to Wembley in the play-off final. This time Scunny were victorious, coming from behind to beat Millwall 3-2, thanks to a late Martyn Woolford strike.
Adkins strengthened his Scunthorpe side by bringing in the likes of Michael O'Connor and Josh Wright in preparation for their return to The Championship for 2009/10. This time Scunny's fight for survival was a success, with Adkins's side ending the campaign in 20th position, two places above the drop zone. Striker Gary Hooper played a big part in The Iron's success yet again, scoring 20 times. Adkins's men also gave Manchester City a scare in the FA Cup 4th round. After being thrashed 5-1 earlier in the season at The City of Manchester Stadium in the League Cup, Scunthorpe acquitted themselves much better at Glanford Park on 24th January and were even tied at 1-1 at one point against the Manchester giants, until City eventually overpowered The Championship side to win 4-2. Scunny's most impressive performance in the league came on 9th January when they hammered Derby 4-1 at Pride Park.
Adkins lost his two star strikers before the start of the 2010/11 season. Gary Hooper was sold to Celtic for £2,400,000, while Paul Hayes moved to Preston. Despite these massive departures, his side made a good start to the campaign, with a shock win on the opening day at Reading. Shortly after Adkins's side had thumped Crystal Palace 3-0 on 28th August, the former physiotherapist attracted interest from Southampton, who sacked Alan Pardew on August 30th. Adkins held talks with Saints in early September and quickly agreed terms with Chairman Nicola Cortese. At one point the deal looked in danger however, when Scunthorpe claimed Cortese had asked Adkins to resign in order to avoid paying compensation, something he refused to do. A compensation package was eventually agreed though, and Adkins became Southampton boss on 12th September 2010, one day after his final match at Scunthorpe, which he lost 2-0 against Bristol City.
Adkins' debut match as Southampton boss came at MK Dons on September 15th 2010. Despite dominating in the early stages, Saints finishing was poor and his new side went down to a 2-0 defeat, which left them in the League 1 drop zone. Adkins first home game was a 0-0 draw against Colchester three days later. He wouldn't have to wait much longer for his first win at the club. That came on 25th September at Sheffield Wednesday, when Lee Barnard grabbed the only goal of the game.
Adkins was slowly but surely getting his ideas across to his new team. Performances were mixed in October and November, but Saints only lost two matches in that time. He brought through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who established himself as a future star with two awesome goals in the 4-0 win over Dagenham & Redbridge on November 2nd. The former Scunthorpe boss made Richard Chaplow his first signing, taking the midfielder on loan from Preston. League leaders Brighton frustrated Adkins's men on 23rd November, earning a 0-0 draw after Kelvin Davis had saved a penalty late on. The club also progressed to the FA Cup third round during this time, with wins against Shrewsbury and Cheltenham.
Adkins was in charge for the worst performance of the season against Brentford on December 11th. The Bees ran out 2-0 winners at St Marys in a terrible contest. Saints would only play one other match that month as bad weather caused matches at Hartlepool, Walsall and Charlton to be postponed. Southampton closed out 2010 with a 4-1 massacre of Huddersfield on December 28th. That was followed up with an equally impressive display against Exeter on New Year's Day, which saw Saints run out 4-0 winners.
Adkins had a great start to 2011. Two days after the Exeter match, Saints travelled to Dagenham and secured another vital three points in a hard fought win on a dodgy playing surface. Guly Do Prado and Richard Chaplow were signed to permanent contracts before Saints dumped Blackpool out of the FA Cup with a very convincing performance. Three days later Southampton hit six goals past Oldham without reply in their best display under Adkins to date.