Southampton are the “Green Bay Packers of the Premier League”

5 Comments

How does Southampton compete with Premier League giants? This early look at Roger Bennett’s documentary “The Southampton Way” (premiering Jan. 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) provides some insight with the video above. 

Below are some snippets from the documentary, as Roger Bennett traveled to the largest city on the South Coast of England to see how the club which calls Britain’s ‘Gateway to the World’ home, keep churning out top quality players and what is special about the Saints after their dramatic journey from League One to the upper echelons of the Premier League over the past five years. With the likes of Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers all coming through the ranks at Saints, it is certainly a special club.

[ RELATED: Koeman hails Southampton after big win over Arsenal ]

When we spoke to Ralph Krueger at ProSoccerTalk about taking over as the Chairman of Southampton Football Club last season, it was clear he had a lot to learn about the Premier League. However, the man who coached in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers and helped the Canadian Olympic hockey team to the gold medal in Sochi last year has brought his strong motivational techniques to Saints and has been a key part in their dramatic overhaul over the summer. He believes in “The Southampton Way.”

“When we are going out on the field coming up face-to-face against clubs who have three or four times the playing salaries that we have, it is really about creating synergies in the group,” Krueger revealed. “We really look at every single place where we can strive for excellence. It is what makes Southampton unique. We are the Green Bay Packers. We are the small town team going up against the teams from London, Liverpool and Manchester so we need to find little opportunities and above all, it is the synergy that we look for every day.”

Manager Ronald Koeman arrived in the summer, with former boss Mauricio Pochettino jumping ship to Tottenham Hotspur and six key players sold to some of England’s biggest teams. Instead of the relegation battle everyone predicted, Saints are currently in the top four on New Year’s Day 2015, and Koeman revealed how excited he has been about the project since the start.

“When I got the telephone call about Southampton, we had a good meeting. Not about money. That was the reason I liked it very much. It was about football. It was about young players,” Koeman said. “It was about the academy and structure of the club and, in my opinion, it was a good challenge. I believe in development. I believe in structure. And I believe in young players because young players are the future of this club.”

Remember, “The Southampton Way” premieres Jan. 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

Photograph by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Leave a comment

New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

From Borussia.de:

“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.

Spanish court to decide fate of Spanish league game in USA

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) A Spanish court will decide whether the Spanish league will be allowed to play the Villarreal-Atletico Madrid game in the United States next month.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Madrid to hear arguments from the league and the Spanish soccer federation, which is against taking the regular-season match abroad.

The league has called for an injunction to force the federation to give its approval. It accuses the local soccer body of unfair competition.

The league also needs the approval of UEFA and American soccer bodies to be able to play the match, which is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Miami.

The commercial court hearing the case is expected to issue a ruling within the next few days.

More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports