|By PAUL GOUGH
Southampton's bizarre decision to fire popular and successful manager Nigel Adkins is being strongly tipped to backfire by punters - at least in the short-term - with the in-form Saints now being given little chance of upsetting high-flying Everton on Monday [Tuesday morning Australian time] in the EPL.
Adkins led the Saints to back-to-back promotions, taking them from League One to the English Premier League. They sit a respectable 15th in their first season back in the top flight, having taken 14 points from their last ten matches.
But, incredibly, the Southampton board dumped Adkins and replaced him with little-known Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, the former manager of Spanish club Espanyol. The Saints' players have reportedly already expressed their concerns over Pochettino's scant knowledge of either the English language or the Premier League.
Protests by the club's fans are expected at Monday's home game and the punters clearly believe the furore will affect the Saints' performance.
Everton, who are sitting in fifth place in the Premier League and have lost just two of their past 18 games in all competitions, have been overwhelmingly backed to win the match.
|Everton to win v Southampton at $2.04 at Betfair
||Southampton to be relegated from the Premier League at $2.62 at Betfair|
And Everton are even shorter at $1.94 at Eskander's Betstar and exactly even money odds of $2 with the TAB, with Southampton priced at $4 and $3.40 respectively.
Everton are also unbeaten in their past six matches against Southampton, dating back to 2002.
The Saints' coaching change has also seen the club shorten dramatically in relegation markets, with Southampton in from $3.35 to $2.62 at Betfair to be relegated this season.
They remain fifth favourites in that market, behind Reading at $1.49, Queens Park Rangers at $1.62, Aston Villa at $2.28 and Wigan at $2.46.
* Note prices subject to change