Footballers' Football Show: Les Reed reveals secret behind Southampton's youth success

Last Updated: 12/03/14 9:40am

Southampton's success in developing some of Britain's best young players has been boosted by the new Elite Player Performance Plan, according to Les Reed.

Reed, Southampton's Head of Football Development, believes they are reaping the rewards for their commitment to the Premier League's initiative, which aims to help clubs produce more talent young English players.

Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana are leading Southampton's latest generation of home-grown stars who are following in the footsteps for former Saints graduates Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott.

Southampton had 17 players called up by England, at various levels, during the recent round of international matches.

"We have a philosophy that drives the development of young players because we want a team with young home grown players."

Les Reed

Reed, a former FA technical director, says the EPPP has played an important role helping them develop young players, although he maintains the club's attitude to youth remains the key factor in their success.


"EPPP was hard work in the beginning," he told the Footballers' Football Show. "The audit was a very detailed process but I think it made us better.

"It helped us to structure all the things that we thought were right. It gave us an opportunity to really pay attention to some details that need it. We welcome that.

"EPPP was never meant to be an overnight success. It was going to take some time and people have got to work at it. If we have a secret, it is that we do that. We work very, very hard at all aspects of our Elite Performance Plan and development.

"You can choose your attitude. We have built our club on sound business principles and the academy and development of young players is part of that business plan.

"We have a philosophy that drives the development of young players because we want a team with young, home-grown players.

"We want a team of players who have come through from eight or nine years of age as well, not imported later on in life. It is the responsibility of the directors of a club to take that decision and back their coaching staff to deliver it."


Reed admits that the priority for manager Mauricio Pochettino is to consistently deliver results and drive the team up the Premier League.

However, he insists the club is more sensitive to the demands, and potential rewards, of developing young players.

"So, yes, our manager is under pressure to get results every week, we are in the top half of the Premier League and we want to drive on and be more successful," he said.

"However he has the comfort of knowing that we are all working to the same philosophy so he can pick young players and allow them to make mistakes, and he is not going to be put under pressure for that.

"I think a club can choose to do that and have that attitude. Then it makes life a lot easier for young players to go through because we have created a pathway for them."

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