A mixed Southampton squad of established first team players and fringe players from the youth setup jetted out to Maryland, Baltimore this past week for the club’s first ever pre-season trip to the US.
Tying in nicely with the launch of the club’s new kit, developed by Maryland based brand Under Armour, it has been no secret that Saints are looking to expand their boundaries.
It was a great opportunity for the Southampton fans across the Atlantic to get a rare access to the players, as Claude Puel run the rule over his squad for the first time. Saints ran out 2-0 winners over DC United u23’s, travelled the sites of Washington DC during their stay, but perhaps most importantly hosted an open training session for the supporters. Bill Adlin, was one of the fans in attendance and he gave us this feedback.
‘Oh when the Saints came marching in to the University of Maryland’s Ludwig Field on Thursday, July 14 the fans couldn’t have been happier. The players seemed to have a great time as well!
During the preseason, Southampton FC travelled to Baltimore, Maryland both in order to train and to meet their new partners, Under Armour. On Thursday the Saints travelled to the University of Maryland for a training session. Fans were invited to watch the session and to meet and greet the players after.
Fans got to witness a variety of drills on a blazing hot 98 degree day. Corner kicks, possession drills and free kicks were among the skills that were practised. They even played a game that looked like keep away…with their hands. The crowd said “ooooohhhhhh” when one Saint was gated during a spectacular move on goal. We won’t name him here!
Fans were treated to a free Under Armour drawstring bag, complete with Southampton logo emblazoned on it, a very generous gesture by Southampton and Under Armour.
After practice Saints fans formed a line and all players and coaches signed autographs, shook hands and took pictures with them. They couldn’t have been more gracious. Virgil Van Dyk and Dusan Tadic were among the favourites as were newcomers Nathan Redmond and last season transfer Charlie Austin. Even new coach Claude Puel got in on the action. Kelvin Davis, recently retired goalkeeper and new addition to the coaching staff graciously emerged from the bus after practice to greet a fan that missed him the first time through.
It was a brilliant event. Thanks for Southampton and Under Armour for making it happen. Good luck this season! We’ll be pulling for you from across the pond.’
Thanks to Bill for reporting back! Sounds like everyone had a great time!
It’s July. It’s unlikely that anyone has had as turbulent a Summer as Saints so far (Quelle surprise!), so I thought I would give my thoughts on some of the (it’s) happenings at St. Mary’s.
As common an occurrence at the South Coast’s premier club as a bottled North London title challenge, we are used to seeing our top assets walk out at the first sign of fluttered eye lashes from one of the Premier League’s oh so powerful ‘MASSIVE’ clubs. I have to admit though, the loss of Wanyama and Mane in quick succession was a tough one to take. I’ve made no bones that they were two of my ‘favourite’ players from recent squads, and both will be difficult to replace.
In Victor’s case, it was no real shock, I think he got the same treatment as Schneiderlin had previously and was told he could go in the Summer if he knuckled down and got on with it, which he did. Spurs are in the Champion’s League, and Wanyama is a much better player than a lot of Saints fans give him credit for. On the bright-side though Oriol Romeu’s performances were a massive credit to him when he played last season, and most would argue that he is a more than capable replacement. I personally think he is not ‘Victor level’ just yet, but the signs are positive and he is becoming a popular figure with the crowd.
Mane’s move to Liverpool struck me as a purely financial decision by the club. £34 million plus add-ons is a lot of money for a player who can blow hot and cold. Having said that, he is unplayable on his day and the club did the right thing holding out for a ‘silly’ offer before conceding. I can understand a player’s motivation for wanting to play for Liverpool, but it irks slightly that Mane has moved to a club who finished below us last season, and without European football, albeit on no doubt a much higher salary.
Nathan Redmond has already joined so technically Mane’s position is covered. I’m a big fan of Redmond, and believe he has huge potential, but like Romeu I think the issue could be that he isn’t at the same level as Mane yet.
Oh, and Juanmi left. *Shrugs*.
The New Boss
Claude Puel. What do I know about him? Very little in truth, but unlike some, who immediately wrote him off as ‘underwhelming’ or an ‘unambitious’ appointment, I did the due diligence and read all I could.
It’s fair to say his reputation in France is good. He has a good record with every club he’s been at, won the league with Monaco, got Lyon to the Champion’s League semi finals and Nice into the top four twice, but more importantly, he has a reputation for playing ‘the best’ football in the French league and promoting youth. A move back to the Southampton ideals a certain Dutchman was happy to ignore?
Since he joined I’ve been impressed with his cool persona. He’s as French as they come, and the nonchalant expression as he was shown round the club’s facilities was official Saints YouTube channel gold. In my head he was simply thinking ‘Ok, stadium and changing rooms, great. Show me where I can get a double espresso.’
He will be assisted by the superbly named Pascal Plancque and Eric Black. I know nothing about Plancque, but Black is a well respected coach who happens to be fluent in French (a shrewd move).
I look forward to seeing what this new coaching setup gets out of our talented squad.
Announced yesterday after a series of teaser trailers, the new strip would appear to have been worth the wait.
In my opinion (abusive replies can be made in the comments section below) it is the smartest home kit we’ve had since the sash and the away strip is decent too.
As a long term admirer of Under Armour equipment (I used to use their cooling t-shirts literally under armour in my highly decorated military adventures in the Middle East) I was excited to see what they come up with and I think they have hit the nail on the head.
Some people are worried about sizing with the emphasis these days on designing for the elite athletes rather than the beer bellies in the crowd (seems misguided), but I ordered yesterday on the basis that I wear large UA coolswitch t-shirts for running and they fit me well. We’ll see.
The main complaints I saw from the terminally diagnosed naysayers were firstly ‘It looks like a bra at the top’, which was most brilliantly shot down by one of our female fans who questioned why a lot of our male fanbase seemed confused about the position of breasts in relation to the chest.
Secondly, it seemed a lot of people wanted a Yellow away strip. Now this is going to be controversial (comments section) but I for one didn’t want a yellow kit. I get the tradition and the history, but yellow kits are consistently garish. Besides, last season was the 40th anniversary of the cup win, so that was the time to have yellow. The black shirt is smart.
Right now our squad is not as strong as it was last season, in fact I would say it is considerably weaker. But I think we can expect a few through the door once Claude has made his assessments of the current squad.
In my opinion we need another defensive midfielder, another striker/winger and perhaps another goalkeeper.
We’ve already been associated with pretty much anyone who has ever kicked a ball, so I am not going to comment on particular names, most of which are being also linked to much bigger parties anyway so seem unrealistic.
All I ask though, is that you try not to have a tantrum when other clubs sign somebody. We only need to worry about our own club, and in the last 5 years, with regards to incoming transfers they’ve (almost) always got it right.
Now the season is officially over, and the frustrating rumour mill has already started turning with regards to the future of our players and manager, many will be waiting in anticipation for the reveal of the new Saints kit for next season, especially as it will be the first manufactured by Under Armour. But what have been the best Saints kits over the years?
‘This simple late 90s club designed shirt was famous for closing the final two seasons at the Dell where the club had played since 1898. With subtle touches including special ‘The Dell 1898-2001′ embroidery and a suitably 90s collar this design provides a stylish end to the decade.’
9. 2006-07 Away Shirt
‘Stylish black number (first ever all largely black away shirt) famous for when a fresh-faced Gareth Bale broke into the Southampton side at the tender age of 16. With some eye-catching performances from the young Welshman the side reached the Championship Play-Off Semi-Finals in ’07. With the classy red and gold Bale #22 Football League printing, this shirt has become something of a collectors piece over the years.’
8. 2013-14 Home Shirt
‘Adidas debuted their first Saints shirt with this controversial all red number in 2013. The design followed on from the 2012 home shirt which was the first all red design (barring some white pinstripes) since the 1985 Patrick design. Despite the calls of many fans who asked ‘where are our stripes’, added gold detail to the badges and sponsor make this one of the classiest designs in recent years.’
7. 2001-03 Home Shirt
‘Simple design club-produced home shirt which welcomed in a new era for the side at St Mary’s when James Beattie fought Henry and van Nistelrooy for the golden boot after bagging 23 Premier League goals. The design however is most famously remembered for being worn the day the side said goodbye to the Dell when legendary midfielder Le Tissier scored a late minute volley to secure a stunning 3-2 win against champions elect Arsenal. It doesn’t get more classic than that.’
6. 1995-97 Home Shirt
‘This mid-90s number was far more straightforward than its Pony predecessor, with a classic simple stripe design and a retro collar. Matters were anything but straightforward on the pitch when amateur footballer Ali Dia convinced then-manager Graeme Souness that he was George Weah’s cousin which led to him signing a one month contract. After making just one appearance for the side in this shirt, he was released. Le Tissier later commented, “He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice; it was very embarrassing to watch”.’
So there we have it, a nice selection of strips with some great memories attached, but what will make the top 5? Find out soon….
Check out some classic Southampton shirts here bit.ly/1NGtSxI and tell us which is your favourite?
Yesterday, Saints Chairman Ralph Krueger hosted an assembly to make an announcement on a new partnership with an innovative sports brand. Journalist Ben Hooke was on hand for georgeweahscousin.com to find out more about this exciting new chapter in the Southampton experience:-
Saints today announced a record-breaking kit deal with Under Armour, becoming only the second Premier League club to opt for the American company as principal kit sponsor.
The deal was announced by Krueger and Under Armour’s Vice President of Global Sports Marketing Peter Murray at St. Mary’s today and extends until 2023 with Krueger believing it’s a big step in Saints’ journey.
“We went from the Championship to the Premier League in 2012; that was a historic day for the club and I believe this is a historic leap for the club too. Our partnership with Under Armour as a club takes us into a completely new space.”
“The most important thing about a partnership like this, the focus of Southampton FC, is excellence through the first team on a weekly basis in our Premier League matches. So, as quick as we are growing as a club we are adding strengths in all aspects of the club.”
At its heart the deal involves six pledges:
1.Relentlessly innovate and create revolutionary product enabling our first team to perform at the highest level.
2.Continue to develop the next generation of academy talent and empower them with over 5000 pairs of cutting edge footwear over the next seven years
3.Work with Saints foundation and kit out over 5000 children in the local community
4.Develop the women and girl’s game through our shared expertise and knowledge
5.Realise our global ambition by spreading the benefits of sport and healthy living through technology and activations
6.Together we commit to having fans and innovation at the heart of everything we do
Peter Murray shed some light on what attracted the two parties together:
“A big driver from a partnership standpoint was not only the first-team but also the commitment by Southampton to develop their academy players to achieve their very best.”
“Under Armour will be on the Southampton FC journey every step of the way; providing the club with training resources, training tools in addition to outfitting the academy players from head-to-toe in state of the art product including footwear.”
Spurs became the first team in the UK to don the US giants in 2011 and the brand’s profile on this side of the Atlantic has increased recently with their sponsoring of tennis star Andy Murray and recently crowned IBF heavyweight world champion, Anthony Joshua.
Krueger was ringside at Joshua’s fight against Charles Martin and was seen on Sky Box Office embracing the new champion after he knocked out Martin in just the second round.
The deal also increases Saints’ rising stature across the pond with the club receiving solid media coverage in the US since their return to the Premier League as well as recently opening soccer schools set to expose 100,000 children to Southampton FC coaching.
UA replaces Adidas after three years of the agreement between the club and the Three Stripes – the current kit makers’ sponsorship ends at the close of this season – but the clubs relationship with Adidas hasn’t been the smoothest.
The club opted to produce its own in-house kits for the 2014-15 campaign after a break-down in talks midway through their first season as partners, before resuming the initial agreement at the start of this season.
The Under Armour deal with Saints is believed to equate to £8 million per season.
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