How Does Southampton FC Compete With The Giants?
There's something unexpected and amazing happening in the English Premier League this season - unfancied, unheralded Southampton FC has been near the top of the standings all year. (Right now, they're in 5th).
For those unfamiliar with English football - this is roughly akin to a Division III school not known for athletic prowess (like, say, Amherst College) making it to the NCAA Final Four.
This shouldn't be happening. They don't have the financial resources of the "global brands" like Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool or Manchester United. They sold most of their top players in the offseason to the major clubs. They play in a small coastal city with a medium-sized fan following. They generally finish in the bottom half of the standings. When they don't get relegated at the end of the season.
Just like the Oakland Athletics have consistently fielded a competitive team through the "Moneyball" approach created by their GM, Billy Beane, Southampton has realized that it is unable to compete financially with the Russian kleptocrats who own Chelsea, the Qatari sheikhs who own Manchester City, or the global commercial machine that powers Manchester United. But they can build around their unique ability to breed young talent and integrate it into their team. ESPN FC recently characterized them as one of the "model clubs of the Premier League."
This incredible piece, "The Southampton Way", recently aired on NBC Sports Network. Reported and narrated by Men In Blazers' co-host Rog Bennett (disclosure: I'm a long-time GFOP), If you can spare the 30 minutes, give it a watch. If for no other reason than to watch Rog stroll along the Southampton seacost.
What do you think? Will Southampton manage to stay in the Top 4?