Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Adkins targets Europe

Nigel Adkins predicts a bright future at Southampton
Nigel Adkins predicts a bright future at Southampton

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins is not only hopeful the newly-promoted side will avoid relegation but believes they will soon be challenging for Europe and ultimately the Premier League title.

The south coast side return to the top flight this season after a tumultuous seven-year absence, which saw them drop to the third tier and teeter dangerously close to liquidation. Southampton were saved from extinction by the late Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr, who appointed Nicola Cortese to run the club as executive chairman.

Three seasons on and Saints are back in the Premier League and Adkins believes the club can now look forward an exciting period in its history. He told Press Association Sport: "It's a very positive future ahead."

He added: "Nicola Cortese set the dream out and the vision to me to be in the Premier League within five years. Since he has been here, they've done it in three with back-to-back promotions and we're very, very ambitious.

"What we've got to do is make sure we're ambitious in the Premier League and not just go there and think 'oh, well if we can just get enough points to stay up then that will be successful'.

"We've got to drive on, strive to be the best and Europe is obviously the goal. We can draw inspiration from Norwich and Swansea last season in how they acquitted themselves.

"Southampton Football Club ultimately have got to be in the division to get into Europe and ultimately have the dream of winning the division."

Such ambitions will surprise many and when asked whether Europe was a realistic target this season, Adkins added: "Well, that is the vision and the dream you have to strive to keep improving for.

"The training facilities have improved and are improving. The stadium has improved and will keep improving. The standard of the players has improved and will keep improving.

"The ambition is very, very high. You have to be realistic as well, but you've got to reach for the top."

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