Southampton end B Team model as Horseman leaves for Forest Green
Written by Simon Austin — July 20, 2023
SOUTHAMPTON have scrapped their B Team model following the exit of Dave Horseman to become Head Coach of Forest Green Rovers.
The Saints launched the B team concept in September 2019 under former Director of Football Matt Crocker, who had joined from the Football Association. Horseman led the side until he was seconded to first-team duties under Ruben Selles last season.
Now he has been named Head Coach of League Two Forest Green Rovers, with Louis Carey, who was Transition Coach at Southampton, appointed as his assistant.
Crocker, who left in April to become Sporting Director of US Soccer, had insisted that the introduction of the B Team was about more than a mere name change. He said it would lead to closer links with the first team, enabling a better transition of players from Academy to senior football.
“From watching the U23s the previous season when I was at the FA, the style of play looked very different (to the first team),” he said.
The idea was for the B team to have the same style of play, training methods and coaching as the first team, based on the Southampton Playbook. Training sessions were organised so as not to clash with the first team and matches were played at AFC Totton, to get “regular experience of a stadium environment”.
However, Southampton’s new leadership team, headed up by Jason Wilcox, who arrived from Manchester City in June to replace Crocker as Director of Football, have now decided to revert to the traditional Under-21 set-up.
They feel the B Team was effectively an U21 side anyway. It competed against other Category One U21 sides in Premier League 2, winning Division 2 of that competition last season. Lee Skyrme, who was the B Team Individual Coach, stepped up to lead the team to that title last season after Horseman moved to the first team.
Southampton are also likely to scrap the concept of the Game Coach and Individual Coach, which was again introduced under Crocker. They are now advertising for an U21s Head Coach, rather than for Horseman’s old title of Game Coach.
Crocker had explained the concept of the Game Coach and Individual Coach - which replaced the traditional model of Head Coach and Assistant - at TGG’s Individual Development Webinar in 2021 (alongside new Southampton Head Coach Russell Martin).
"The Game Coach is responsible for delivering the Playbook, to make sure the players understand how we play, the terminology, the roles within the team; to make sure we prepare the players for the game effectively, to coach and deliver that game and then review that game,” he said.
"We have also introduced an Individual Development Coach to sit alongside. Their role is to make sure there are robust, simple, player-led Individual Development Plans (IDPs).
"When there’s a need identified by a player, they can go to that Individual Development Coach to pull the relevant staff in to talk about that issue, to find out where that support could come from and to make sure that, on a regular basis, we are reviewing the IDPs based on performances in training, in games, and making sure that they are on track.”
Horseman and Carey have started work at Forest Green this morning. Prior to joining Saints in August 2019, Horseman spent more than 10 years at Bristol City in a number of different roles across two spells, as well as nearly three years at Watford as Lead Professional Development Phase Coach.
Carey is Bristol City’s record appearance holder and made over 500 professional appearances during his playing career. He was PDP Transition Coach at Southampton, helping Academy players transition into the first team.
Skyrme and Olly Lancashire, who was an over-aged player and coach with the B Team last season, will now head up the U21s programme while the club “undertake a diligent recruitment process to appoint a new coaching team.”
Southampton have completely revamped their Academy this summer under new owners Sport Republic. Academy Director Matt Hale has left after a decade and been replaced by Andy Goldie, who previously worked for Swansea City.
Head of Technical Development Iain Brunnschweiler also left the club after almost six years to become a coaching consultant.