Adkins relishing Man City challenge
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins knows there are few tougher season-openers than a trip to Manchester City but is relishing the challenge of trying to upset the reigning champions.
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Just three years after teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the south coast side are back in the Barclays Premier League after a seven-year absence.
Adkins led Saints to back-to-back promotions from League One and now faces the unenviable task of trying to overcome Roberto Mancini's men at the Etihad Stadium in their first game of the season.
Rather than be overawed by the challenge, however, the former Scunthorpe boss is positive about his side's chances.
"What a great, great fixture," Adkins said. "Southampton against Manchester City, away from home, the first game of the season, the league champions.
"They have started pre-season ever so well again they're the benchmark for everybody now. They are the team that everyone has got to go and catch.
"On paper one would expect Manchester City to win the game, but, as we all know, we don't play on paper.
"We've got to go there with a belief that we can go and win the game.
"It is going to be very challenging, we all know that, but we've got to go with a mindset that we can get something from it.
"We've got to be positive in everything we do. It's the first game, we should relish it.
"We know it is going to be challenging, we know it is going to be tough.
"It would be wrong of us not to expect that, but we've got to have a belief about ourselves."
Southampton will need some of that belief if they are to prosper not only on Sunday but in their opening four fixtures, which includes a trip to Arsenal after welcoming Manchester United to St Mary's.
"What a fantastic start," he said. "You drool over that.
"You've got Manchester City away, Wigan at home, Manchester United at home and then Arsenal away.
"They are massive, massive challenging games, but games we should relish. That is what we're in football for.
"You've got to be realistic about it, but you've got to embrace the challenge that we're faced with and be positive about it."
And Adkins is positive about the coming season as well - not even mentioning Premier League survival when asked what his dreams season would involve.
"I want us to play good football, I want the youngsters to come through, I want the players to do themselves proud," he said.
"I want the supporters to enjoy every minute - win, lose or draw - knowing that everyone worked so hard.
"We want to go out with honest endeavour to play football in a way that is pleasing, but a way that gives us an opportunity to win.
"We know that at times we're going to play teams that are better than us, individuals that are going to be better than us, but can we be smart, be cute, can find a different way to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game."