On Friday 6th November 2020, Southampton FC; a club famed for its Academy production over the past 15 years, topped the Premier League for the first time in 32 years. As you look around the rest of Europe, you will see a new breed of challengers outperforming the top-spending clubs.
Be it Real Sociedad in La Liga, Sassuolo in Serie A, Union Berlin in Bundesliga or Bodø/Glimt in Norway, the 2020-21 season has been filled with unfancied league leaders, shock results and goals galore.
Is it fatigue? Is it the disappearance of Home advantage? Is it the extra 200-yard walk from the portacabin changing room? Whilst the possible reasons are endless, the one constant is the need for clubs to look at their structure, processes and resources to optimize squad planning, transfer revenue and Academy player production.
As the 2020-21 season ploughs through fixture build-ups, injuries and stagnant revenue streams, will it be the £50 million-pound player or the homegrown kid from round the corner that drags us out of the darkness and in to the light?
The core of the squad is homegrown, the likes of Berg, Saltnes, the defender Brede Moe and the winger Jens Petter Hauge all drawn from Bodo itself or from elsewhere in the north of Norway. All came up through the club’s youth system. “Half the first team are local boys,” Orjan Berg said. “We aim to have 40 percent of our squad from northern Norway, and 15 percent of playing minutes for local players. That is part of our identity. The fans want northern Norwegians to play.”