Having taken charge of over 450 games in the Premier League, Championship and League One, Nigel Adkins arrives at the KCOM Stadium with a considerable amount of managerial experience.
The 52-year-old clearly had ambitions to become a manager from a very young age, having first coached Sunday league side Renbad Rovers at the age of 16. They achieved numerous promotions before he was given his first job in senior football as boss of League of Wales side Bangor City in 1993, after a spinal injury had curtailed his playing career. 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.
But his big break came at Scunthorpe United. Upon retirement from playing, Adkins realised he needed a back-up option, a Plan B. He began studying for diplomas and degrees, his horizons well and truly broadened with studies in psychology, applied football management, finance and, of course, physiotherapy, which led to a full-time role at Glanford Park in 1996.
And following Brian Laws’ departure to Sheffield Wednesday in November 2006, Adkins was promoted from physiotherapist to caretaker manager. Scunthorpe were already flying high in the League One table and, after losing only one of six games as caretaker, Adkins was given the job on a permanent basis. He ensured the momentum was maintained by guiding the Iron to promotion with three matches to spare, ensuring Scunthorpe would start the following season in the Championship – the first time they would play at that level in 45 years.
Although the 2007/08 campaign ended in disappointment as Scunthorpe suffered relegation, Adkins guided his side to an immediate return to the second tier of English football, winning promotion via the play-offs with a thrilling 3-2 Wembley win over Millwall. More success then followed for Adkins and Scunthorpe as he guided The Iron to safety in 2009/10, finishing 20th, five points and two places above the drop zone, which secured their highest league finish in over four decades.
His time at Scunthorpe came to an end in September 2010 when he accepted the vacant managerial job at Southampton. Despite taking over at St. Mary’s with the Saints languishing in 22nd place in League One, Adkins enjoyed a successful first season, securing a second place finish to guide to Hampshire outfit back to the Championship.
Adkins had proven to be extremely adaptable in his first season at St Mary’s, adopting a number of different formations over the course of the campaign (4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3) but more often than not he settled on using a diamond midfield. The key to promotion though was evident as Southampton recorded their best defensive record for years in 2010/11, also setting a club record for the number of clean sheets in one season.
He was rewarded with a new four-and-a-half year deal by the Saints in May 2011, and the Club enjoyed another memorable campaign with Adkins at the helm in 2011/12 with a second successive promotion. A 4-0 victory over Coventry City on the final day of the season, ensured Southampton finished second in the Championship, one point behind champions Reading. Playing some stunning football throughout the season, the Saints maintained their position in the top two for the entire season to end the club’s seven-year absence from the top-flight of English football.
However, his successful two-and-a-half years in charge of Southampton came to a somewhat controversial end when he was dismissed and replaced by Mauricio Pochettino in January 2013, with the Saints three points above the relegation places in the Premier League table.
He returned to football – and the Premier League – when appointed by Reading in March 2013, with just eight games of the season still to play. But, with the Royals eight points adrift of safety at the time of his arrival, he was unable to prevent the club from suffering relegation to the Championship. In his first full season in charge of Reading, Adkins guided Reading to a 7th place finish in the Sky Bet Championship where they narrowly missed out on a play-off position.
His time at the Madejski Stadium came to an end after 20 months when he parted company with the Berkshire outfit in December 2014, but he was soon back in the game when appointed by Sheffield United in the summer of 2015, signing a three-year deal. He spent just one season at Bramall Lane though, parting company with the Blades after guiding his team to an 11th-placed finish in League One in 2015/16.