Two of the coaches that helped expedite Luke Shaw’s progress through the Southampton ranks have been sacked by the club, leaving the prodigious left-back reportedly furious.
According to Neil Ashton of the Mail Online, Jason Dodd and Paul Williams—two key figures in the structure of Saints’ highly acclaimed youth academy—were relieved of their duties by the south coast club for “not spending enough time with their players.”
Shaw—who is rumoured to be close to sealing a deal to Manchester United, per James Dickenson of The Express—took to Twitter to express his disappointment at the news and wish his former coaches well:
Whilst Shaw’s reaction on social media was typically amicable, according to Ashton’s piece, the 18-year-old defender is aghast at the decision to get rid of the duo. And ahead of a summer for Southampton that looks to be punctured with unwanted transfer speculation, ousting two figures who have enjoyed longstanding success is certainly a peculiar decision.
Dodd and Williams have been a vital part of the infrastructure that has enabled the Saints to nurture talents such as Shaw, Adam Lallana, Calum Chambers, James Ward-Prowse and Sam Gallagher.
The academy production line has been the bedrock of the club in recent years, and ahead of a summer of inevitable uncertainty, Southampton look in danger of unravelling all the sterling work the club has done of late.
Mauricio Pochettino helped Saints to a season of progression in the Premier League, but the manager could be set to depart, along with a host of the club's prized assets, per Tom Collomosse of the London Evening Standard.
With Shaw looking increasingly likely to leave for Manchester United and club captain Lallana the subject of serious interest from Liverpool, per David Maddock of The Mirror, Southampton could have a major rebuilding job on their hands. One that you would have imagined their academy would have been a major part of.
But without Dodd and Williams, both of whom are former Southampton players, uncertainty is set to grip that part of the set-up, too.
Shaw’s reaction on social media suggests the duo were extremely popular figures at the club and you suspect the 18-year-old won’t be the only player disappointed to see them depart. The shock that has accompanied this decision implies that it has been made rashly and keeping the duo on board would have only sought to provide the club with some stability amidst a flurry of transition.
From a Manchester United perspective, the news of these sackings does indicate Southampton are readying themselves for a new era, one that is without the likes of Shaw and the coaches who have helped facilitate his development through the ranks.