Brunnschweiler leaves Southampton, putting Learning Lab in doubt
Written by Simon Austin — June 29, 2023
SOUTHAMPTON Head of Technical Development Iain Brunnschweiler has left the club after almost six years as their overhaul of staff continues.
Brunnschweiler, who played professional cricket for Hampshire, joined the Saints in November 2017 as Coach and Player Development Manager. In February 2022, he moved into the new role of Head of Technical Development, leading a department that had functions including coaching, coach development, individual development coaches and specialist coaches.
The 43-year-old was also fundamental in setting up Southampton's Learning Lab, which launched in April 2022 and aimed to embed a “research culture focused on modern ecological approaches" in the Academy and wider club.
This kind of long-term research project, which allies football and academia, is rare. David Sumpter spoke about this on Episode #39 of the TGG Podcast, highlighting Ajax as an exception.
"In the longer term you are actually going to need to invest in proper research-development," Sumpter said. “I don’t think the willingness is there (in football), despite the vast quantities of money in some clubs, to do that.”
Brunnschweiler's exit has cast doubt on the future of the Learning Lab, especially when you consider that the other two club representatives on the Lab Board - Mark Jarvis and Edd Vahid - have also departed.
TGG understands that the three PhDs taking place within the Learning Lab - on psychology, coaching and virtual reality - will continue, and that Brunnschweiler will still work with James Grant on the coaching PhD.
Dr Andrew Wilson and psychologist Dr Malcolm Frame, who were fundamental in setting up the Lab, will also remain, although they are not full-time club employees. We went inside the Learning Lab on Episode #39 of the TGG Podcast, with Brunnschweiler and Wilson, and you can listen via the Player below.
Announcing his exit from the club on LinkedIn, Brunnschweiler said: “It’s time to make the next step. After six seasons at Southampton I am embarking on a consultancy career, with some exciting project-based work.
“Having recently achieved a Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coach Development, and becoming an EMCC Global Accredited Coach/ Mentor (Diploma level) I am ready to work with elite organisations and people to drive performance forward.
“It has been a privilege to work for the club I have supported all my life, and who I represented as a teenager within the centre of excellence. I’m proud of what we have achieved in player and staff development, as well as what I’ve been exposed to in terms of my own personal development. And we’ve had great fun whilst doing it!
“Thanks to everyone that I’ve worked with, and good luck for the coming season and beyond.”
His career in coaching and coach development is a distinguished one. After retiring as a professional cricketer, in 2003, Brunnschweiler became Assistant Coach of Hampshire.
Spells as England Development Programme Lead with the ECB and as Head of Talent and Performance Coaching with UK Coaching followed, before he joined Southampton in 2017.
Southampton have undergone almost a complete overhaul of staff in the last few months, as you can see below:
- Russell Martin appointed Head Coach this week, with four new assistants.
- Director of Football Matt Crocker left in March (he is now Sporting Director of US Soccer) and was replaced by Jason Wilcox, previously Manchester City Academy Director.
- Academy Manager Matt Hale left after a decade and is now Academy Manager at Derby County.
- Head of Performance Mark Jarvis exited after five years and was replaced by Mark Bitcon, who had worked with Wilcox at Manchester City.
- Lead Data Scientist Alex Kleyn is has left to join Manchester United.
- Joe Ferrelly (previously Everton) appointed Head of Data and Research.
- Head of Sport Science Alek Gross departed after a decade.
- Head of Senior Recruitment Joe Shields left in January to become Co-Director of Recruitment and Talent at Chelsea. Replaced by Aberdeen’s Darren Mowbray.
- Head of Youth Recruitment Dan Rice left to become Head of Emerging Talent for Everton.
- Tom Stockwell stepped down as Head of Scouting Operations to join Nottingham Forest. Replaced by Sam Stanton, previously Head of UK (South) Scouting for the Saints.