Southampton aim for 'innovation and collaboration' with performance revamp
Written by Simon Austin — December 18, 2018
LES REED’S final legacy to Southampton was a complete revamp of their performance department focusing on “innovation and collaboration”.
The 65-year-old Vice Chairman was sacked by the Saints in November after eight years at the club. Before that, he had overseen a restructure with three main aims: to bring medical, science and performance under one umbrella; to unify the first team and Academy departments; and to make research and innovation a specific focus.
A key player is Mark Jarvis, hired from the English Institute of Sport (EIS) during the summer to become Southampton's first High Performance Manager. Jarvis is the strategic lead for the whole department, working in parallel with Director of Performance Science Mo Gimpel, a club veteran of 21 years who now oversees research and innovation.
Elite Performance Partners, who led the recruitment of Jarvis, described him as having a "unique profile" because of his experience in both football and Olympic sports. He was an S&C coach at West Brom from 2010 to 2013 and spent a total of 14 years with the EIS.
His last role with them was Director of Performance Support, which he combined with being Performance Lead for GB Rowing as they prepared for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Jarvis told TGG: “My role at Southampton is entirely strategic, overseeing performance for the first team, Academy and women’s teams. Our stated aim is to drive a culture of collaboration and innovation.
“The idea is to have a unified performance department, instead of any silos. This was Les’s brainchild and there was a good degree of consultation and engagement with the staff before everything was decided.
“Despite his departure we’ve been told we’ll keep doing what we’re doing. People understand what we’re trying to do and it’s worked extremely well so far, even though there’s a lot still to be done.”
Jarvis has three senior staff reporting directly to him. The first is Head of Sports Science and Fitness Alek Gross, who joined the Saints in 2013 and is the “hands-on conditioning lead”.
Alongside him is Steve Wright, the Head of Professional Medical Services (effectively Head Physio), who works with the first team; and Tom Sturdy, who has been promoted from first team physio to the new role of Head of Academy Medical Services. The two jobs are seen as being very much on a par, signifying the unified approach that Southampton are trying to achieve between first team and Academy.
Former Director of Medical Services Steve Baynes has left the club but is still working for them as a consultant, doing one day a week. Thamindu Wedatilake, who has previously worked with the EIS and ECB, has become first-team doctor, with Steve Sparks and Kevin Mulholland the senior first team physios.