1 pointThe U23 cup gets underway this weekend with 8 clubs hoping to get through into the last 16. The first tie will see Chelsea take on Manchester United. last season in what was then the youth cup both teams only got as far as the last sixteen of the competition. Chelsea were in the first round and got through to the last sixteen whereas United had a bye to the last sixteen. Both teams will want to do better this season but one is destined to fall at the first hurdle. Next Wolves will host last year's finalists Crystal Palace. Last season these two met in the youth cup semi-final and Palace embarrassed Wolves with a 7-2 hiding. This season they meet in the first round and Wolves will no doubt be out for revenge for last season. Can the winner of this tie get to the semis again? A London derby takes place in the third tie as Arsenal take on Tottenham Hotspur. Both teams did not do fantastic in this competition last season as Arsenal went out in this round last season and Spurs with a bye to the last sixteen fell at that point. A fiesty affair this could be as both want to make it to the last sixteen and beyond. Finally the last first round tie sees Sunderland face off against Aston Villa. Villa went out to Chelsea last season in this round and will want to at least go one better by making it to the next and into the last sixteen. Sunderland are another team that went out in the last sixteen and it will no doubt have bitter memories as they went out to rivals Newcastle. Can they get further this season? It is of course a two leg affair and so after the first leg it may still be all to play for but one or two tricky ties there and just who will go through?
1 pointSouthampton announce three new signings. Southampton can today announce three new signings as they were successful in obtaining there target from the recent auction making the players coming in a total of three so far. The three signings can now be affisially announced as all the paperwork has now gone threw and they will soon be arriving at the club. The three signings are as follows. From QPR in the deal which involved Vergal going the other way come in experienced defender Stephen Calka and Young talented 21 year old Dan Darbyshire. Both are good players and are expected to be great players for the club. Stephen is an experienced defender and Dan is young and hungry. We're glad to do this deal as Vergal was clearly unhappy at the club and praise is given to the manager and is team for sorting the problem out. McNamara said the following about the deal when he spoke to Sky sports news earlier today. "I am happy with this deal, Stephen and Dan are both good players and Dan being young is what we wanted in our striking options. Stephen is an experienced defender at this level and is a solid center back. We're hoping that both players settle quickly as we're excited about the future that these two players have. Both hav signed 4 year deals at the club as we were keen to commit them to long term contracts. Both are expected to feature a lot for the team this season although Dan will probably find himself 4th choice as we have four very good and talented strikers here at the moment and we expect them all to get chance." The third signing is from the auction, Southampton are pleased to announce the signing of 21 year old striker Karlan Grant from Hiddisfield town for 60 million pounds. People will question the price tag I am sure but McNamara has proven that he knows what he's doing so far so it's suspected that people will give him a chance to prove the investmant is worth while. McNamara said the following. "Karlan is a good young player who has proven that he's a goal scorer he'll give our young strike force much needed compatition for places and we're looking forward to his arrival at our club. He'll need to bide his time although with his price tag and age if he shows promis early on in training he could start the season. It's going to be great compitition for places up front and we're hoping that all four will make my choices hard."
1 pointYouth football at the saints. Today our focus is on youth football at the saints. In the top devision of youth football it's a tough battle every week however Southampton football club believe that they are ment to be there. Southampton have a very strong under 23s lineup and are sure they can get results. After the extra awards are added they will be strong in all areas of the field. Today we looked at the plans for the youth team and noticed that with six strikers two will lightly not make the grade. however based on McNamara's squad aditions it's easy to see who though's two strikers are. The youth side are clearly being improved in a steady manner and it's clear that the coaching team at the Academy have clear plans in how this should be done. McNamara said the following about youth football when we spoke to him on the subject earlier today. "Youth football is vital here at southampton, we are a club who want to develop our own players for our first team in the future but any players who don't make the grade we like to make sure that there at a level where they have a chance of building some kind of carreer with another club. It is vital to me that as many players as possible have a chance of making the grade wich is why we're always looking for improvements to our squad. Developing youth players takes time and effort and it's not something that all managers really have the passion for. I am always on the look out for teams who don't seem to really have youth football in there plans and often look to take the prospects I feel have a chance of making it and bring them in to a club ware youth football is a priority as much as senior football. Youth is the future of a club and if you can develop your own talent it can save you a lot of money long term and allow you to then concentrate on improving the areas that need the biggest improvement. Developing your own talent also means that you don't need to spend as much money in the transfer market making it possible to put your club on the map by producing your own first team. The dream in the future is to have a whole squad both first team and under 23s developed by us. Mainly once we have a first team that is competing at a high level we'll then be concentrating on bringing top young players in to enable us to control our own development of players. Any players who don't develop well enough to make our grade will then be sold to other clubs. Having our own production line and developed squad is a dream I feel we can achieve and it's something that is possible to do in my opinion. This has to be managed carefully though because we don't want to many players going up to first team level at once meaning that we don't have enough players to keep the youth team going. It also has to be done carefully because if we have two many young players playing in a first team at once at a high level there is danger of a lack of leadership quality and experience could make the team suffer if there is not enough personality out there in order for a game to be taken by the scruff of the neck. However our long term goal is to have an under 23s squad with regular players coming in and making it to first team level. My goal is to one day be running a club where we're developing the majority of players ourselves so that the only types of players we're spending money on is youngsters to keep this developing line coming. I want to make this the best Academy where everyone will want to come to get players from so that we can become self sufissiont and build our own product line of players who can hopefully go on and make it at all levels. It's a long term project and won't happen over night because players take time to develop and over time ratings will probably go up in regards to players coming into the game so that will have to be taken into account when we're putting our plan into action. My aim is to have at least one player per season if not two or three making it to a level where there ready to either be conciddered to play first team football for us or can be sent out on loan to a first team in order to develop further. I also look to improve the weaker members of the squad with the youth abs awards because that way the players who don't get as much game time as others still have a chance of gaining affective development. I like to have a squad that I feel I can call on so if a starting player gets injoured or suspended I know the player I am bringing in is of a similar quality. This way the squad develops at a manigible rate and you don't start losing two many players to first team at once."