Proud Adkins revels in promotion
Nigel Adkins admitted he would enjoy a glass of bubbly after guiding his Southampton side to "something special" - promotion to the Premier League.
The Saints boss praised the character and professionalism of his players over the course of the entire campaign after goals from Billy Sharp, Jose Fonte, Jos Hooiveld and Adam Lallana saw off lowly Coventry 4-0 and propelled the south coast club back to the top flight.
After a seven-year absence, during which Southampton have endured two seasons in League One, Premier League football will return to St Mary's from August.
And Adkins, who has now led the Saints to back-to-back promotions, was not about to shy away from the magnitude of such an achievement.
"We've put a lot of hard work in and a lot of hours but we've achieved something special this season," he said.
"We achieved something special last season and I suppose it's that drive to do well. Everyone works so hard at this football club and it's great to see the smiles and delight on the supporters' faces.
"It's been a nervy week for them but it's been well worth it. Every plaudit that goes their way they richly deserve because they've worked hard for it. I need to let it all soak in but it's been very, very special.
"I'd like to think I'm going to have a glass of champagne tonight because that's what you should do if you win."
Despite the celebrations following the final whistle at St Mary's, Adkins revealed the failure to claim the Championship title still grates with him.
A stumble in form towards the end of the campaign allowed Reading to sneak into top spot above Southampton but, while Adkins is evidently frustrated his side were not crowned champions, he was delighted to have secured automatic promotion.
"It's a great achievement to get promoted, I'm gutted we haven't won the league to be honest, I really wanted to win the league so we'll have to get over that," he said.
"It's very soon after the game so it's very emotional still. I'm just trying to take it all in.
"I won the League One title with Scunny (Scunthorpe) and it's a similar feeling. That weight is off your shoulders, that burden - you're doing everything you can to keep everybody focused and all of a sudden you've achieved it.
"Now we've got to look at a new set of goals. We've achieved that, we've got to go and achieve something else."
While the Saints' party is just getting started, Coventry find themselves in a similar position to that which faced their hosts three years ago.
Back then, Southampton dropped into League One after being hit with a 10-point deduction by the Football League.
But the Saints regrouped and rebuilt, and that is exactly what Sky Blues boss Andy Thorn intends to do over the summer as City prepare for life in the third tier.
"I've told the boys that we've got to use that as a learning curve and guide them to where we want to get to," he said.
"What's happened to us, happened to them and we've got to try and be positive. Those are the levels you want to get to. I know we're young and I know we're inexperienced but there's nothing to stop you applying yourself properly and you get a winning mentality.
"We get back and we start and we freshen things up. They've done it, other teams have done it, now we have to do it."