LONDON (Reuters) - Reading chose to put a steady hand on the tiller and look to the future rather than try their luck with a relegation quick-fix by unveiling former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins as their manager on Tuesday.
In contrast to Adkins’s former club, who replaced him with Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, Reading have opted for a man with Premier League experience who also knows his way around the lower divisions should they fail to beat the drop.
Adkins, whose sacking by the promoted south-coast outfit two months ago came as a shock since his team had lost just twice in 12 league games, has eight matches to rescue his new club.
On paper, it looks an almost impossible task with Reading second from bottom in the table and seven points adrift of safety but Adkins is ready for the challenge.
“We’ve got to believe we can do it, I’ve joined Reading Football Club and I want to be in the Premier League,” the 48-year-old, who has signed a three-year-deal, told a news conference.
Reading were looking for a new manager after parting company with Brian McDermott on March 11 following four consecutive Premier League defeats.
They have since lost to league leaders Manchester United and face a difficult trip to Arsenal in their next Premier League outing on March 30 followed by a match at home to Adkins’s former club Southampton a week later.
“This is an appointment we have made both with the short and long term in mind and Nigel can take our club forward,” Reading’s Russian owner Anton Zingarevich said in a statement on the club’s website (www.readingfc.co.uk).
”I am delighted to bring Nigel to our club because he is perfect for us.
“He has great respect within the game, his CV speaks for itself and he has many attributes as a manager, he is progressive, he develops players, his teams play attacking, passing football but most of all he knows how to win games at all levels.”
Adkins’s dismissal by Southampton in January came just after his side had fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with European champions Chelsea.
The sense of shock was heightened because Southampton chose to replace him with a manager who did not speak English and had enjoyed a largely unspectacular time in charge of La Liga side Espanyol.
Adkins joined Southampton in 2010 and oversaw back-to-back promotions from League One (third division) and the Championship (second division) to take them back to the top flight for the first time since 2005.
A string of Premier League managers rallied behind him to condemn the decision with Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson saying it was a “crazy world”.
Adkins, who had not spoken publicly since his departure from Southampton, did not want to dwell on the past and said he simply wanted to take the opportunity to thank his previous club’s staff, players and fans.
He said he was excited about the prospect of managing Reading and that he was taking the job having gathered more experience in his short time away from the game.
“I’ve had two months out, I’ve gone round Europe, seen different things and I‘m excited about the future now,” he said.
Several managers had been linked with the job at Reading with Brighton boss Gus Poyet reportedly having talks before deciding to stay put.
Former Swindon Town manager Paolo Di Canio was also a potential candidate.
Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ed Osmond and Sonia Oxley