This is the classic sequel discussion for a relegated team.
Young people are just a game. What is the point of playing accomplices in such mistakes and leaving anyway?
But most of the time, it’s not that straightforward. Young players usually thrive in a stable environment and in a side that is confident, consistent and, most importantly, wins games. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why Southampton’s most popular talents tend to thrive when the team is in the lower divisions.
Southampton’s current prowess means the conditions for an early talent to break into the fold are about as level and firm as a cliff face. This is not a convenient time, or place, for some kid to make a Premier League debut.
There are several caveats to consider when introducing a young player. Success in youth football – especially when it is played outside the Premier League Division One – does not always correlate with first-team football due to the lack of physicality, intensity and overall competitiveness.
Southampton’s first team have used 32 players so far this season, which is the joint second most in the Premier League. Showing the absence of a tactical base and overall framework, they deployed eight different formations under three managers at the time. This, obviously, is not good for building on-field partnerships or reaping consistency.
With two games remaining in their 2022-23 campaign, relegation is confirmed and the growing feeling that the current 11-game winless streak has led some players, possibly unconsciously, that examines mentally, the integration of some academic talents in the group is considered by the manager. Ruben Selles.
Although Selles is set to officially leave the club on June 30 and is therefore unlikely to benefit from the fruits of youth, what will he decide to do with two of their top academy players – Kamari Doyle and Dom Ballard – could have big consequences for Southampton.
as The Athletic reports, the club’s academy players are beginning to consider their future, despite being offered new lucrative contracts. They are reluctant to commit unless they see a plan on how to get them into the first team. A bloated squad of 30 – the second largest in the Premier League behind Chelsea – has blocked any way forward, fueled by the feeling that Ralph Hasenhuttl and short-lived successor Nathan Jones are less interested in the B team and the under-18s, seen as the best age group in over a decade.
As a result, several sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect relationships, insist that Southampton must show faith in young players or risk losing them, especially now that relegation is one it’s a deal.
Those who joined the club a decade ago and then have an understanding of the golden age of Southampton’s academy – which brought in players such as Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse, Calum Chambers and Harrison Reed – believe there is little encouragement about in a clear. first team path ever. There is a fear that players, if they are not allowed to progress through the age groups, will fall out of the system.
Education, world experts and good manners – behind the scenes of Southampton’s next generation
Doyle and Ballard are both under contracts that run until 2024 and there are discussions with academy director Matt Hale (who will leave the club this summer) about their futures. Money may not be a factor for either player, but showing that there are opportunities in the first team in the last two games could help if they decide to commit long-term.
Incoming director of football Jason Wilcox is an admirer of both, with early signs suggesting he wants a hands-on influence in the academy. Southampton have been under fire in the case of Jimmy-Jay Morgan joining Chelsea and, bearing in mind the huge amount they are willing to pay him to prevent interest (which is an open secret to teammates) Southampton have, in some ways. , made a stick for their own back.
“We’ve been at the club since he was seven and train at our center in Bath (a 90-minute drive north-west),” Jeremy Newton told the under-18s coach. The Athletic Last month. “He’s been on a long journey within the academy set-up. I’ve worked with him in younger age groups and he’s an effective learner. We don’t see him much now because of system to commit him to B-team or first-team training.”
Growing up, Doyle’s grandfather would drive him from Bristol, north of Bath, to Southampton for training every week. In fact, it was his grandfather who encouraged him to play with both feet and practiced regularly to a point where Doyle began to develop a reputation for his uncanny ability to pick up – and score. – free kicks with his left and right foot. Appropriately, he considered James Ward-Prowse as a mentor.
Take a bow, Kamari Doyle 👏
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 2, 2023
“We can move on two feet,” said Newton. “He can receive with both feet and score free kicks with both feet. He is progressing very well and many staff members are very happy with his progress. He can play as a No 6, a 10 or as a withdrawn No 9.
The 17-year-old has scored 12 goals and registered eight assists in 21 games this season – the highest goals and assist rates per 90 minutes of any midfielder in Premier League 2 – with scouts from elsewhere noted his potential.
Doyle’s ideal position is as a central No 10 or a No 8 thinking of attacking a midfield three but, in part influenced by the ‘SFC Playbook’ and principles of play within the 4-2-2-2 system, he has straddled many positions in recent years.
Entering the B team as a 16-year-old, Doyle initially operated as a No 6 in a midfield pairing. How he faces the challenge is thought to describe his tendency to adapt and thus accelerate his progress with each step up a level. Privately, there is a feeling that he is ready to play senior football.
Internal analysis, taken from the last seven seasons, highlighted Doyle’s goals and assist rate per 90 minutes (GA90) as the highest of any player playing for Southampton Under- 18s (1.22), with Ballard (1.11) second. More importantly, the data below reinforces the widely held school of thought that the club’s current youth crop is the most productive in seven seasons.
This week, Ballard was nominated for the Premier League 2 player of the season award after a brilliant campaign, scoring 13 goals in 16 league games and 25 goals in 29 games in all. competitions. Interestingly, when Selles admitted the possibility of bringing young players into the squad for the final part of the campaign, he namechecked Ballard.
Despite the academy coaches insisting there is scope for improvement to streamline Ballard’s overall game, such as his link-up and hold-up game to complement his obvious scoring talents , the new signs are promising. In August, he scored on his senior debut against Cambridge United in the Carabao Cup and was one of the few attacking threats in March’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Grimsby Town.
Like Morgan, who holds the view that he is one of the best forwards at the club but has not broken through in the first half of the season, Ballard is a confident individual and maintains a strong belief in his ability to finish. .
Very little scares him, and that includes accepting the need to take his chance in the first team if/when it comes. A loan move this summer, however, could be on the cards – with Southampton offering a long-term integration plan.
The decision to include Doyle and Ballard in these final two Premier League games away at Brighton on Sunday and at home against Liverpool a week later is likely to carry longer-term consequences, good or bad.
In some ways, it will prove symptomatic of the club’s willingness to double down on their own youth system, as opposed to recruiting from elsewhere.
(Top photos: Getty Images)