Anthony Limbrick says he’s relished the challenge of taking charge of the club’s Under-18s squad for the first time this season.
The Saints coach, who had previously overseen the Under-14 and Under-16 teams, stepped into the void left by former Southampton defenders Jason Dodd and Paul Williams last summer.
And, having established himself and a popular and respected member of the coaching staff at Staplewood, Limbrick says his colleagues have made it easy for him to settle into the role.
“I’ve enjoyed the challenge. This is my fifth season at the club – I started as the Under-14s coach for a couple of years, did the Under-16s for two years and now doing the 18s – and I’ve been lucky enough to find a club that has let me coach all the way through the ages, so I’ve had a good rapport with a lot of the players and all the second years who are now in the under-18s. I’ve known them well and worked with them for the last four years anyway,” he told Southampton’s official YouTube channel.
“Having known all the players before coming into the role has helped, but we’ve got a great support team here at the club, from the other coaching staff, led by all the people here. Martin Hunter, Matt Hale, Radhi Jaïdi, Vince Bartram all give myself good support as well as all the other staff. The medical and strength and conditioning department are fantastic, education always look after the players and the liaison people as well and the analyst department, with Andy Moschini leading the 18s, has really been a help so it’s a real big team effort really.
“It really is a team effort here to develop that one player, so that’s been pleasing and I’ve had fantastic support from everyone.”
Many of the current crop of Under-18s had worked with Limbrick before he was appointed to his current position, and he reckons that familiarity has helped smooth the transition.
“I think it’s important because I’ve seen their progression,” explained the Australian. “Like myself, I’ve progressed through this system and developed and improved as I’ve gone, as a better coach, so I understand what they’re going through. I’ve seen them grow up from 12, 13, from boys into men you could say, so I’ve had a big input into their development and I understand what they’ve had to do.
“I think it’s probably been an advantage because I’ve known them quite well anyway but we spend a lot of time together with all the staff, so (the players) tend to know them quite well too. We know what needs to be expected and the standard that they need to meet. It’s been an advantage that way probably, you could say.”
And, like the players under his tutelage, Limbrick feels that he himself has improved as coach, relishing the additional, almost pastoral duties that coaching at a higher level entails.
“Dealing with players off the field at this level is really important I’ve found,” he said. “The technical and tactical is similar but just another level up, but dealing with all the other off-field demands, of talking to the media and dealing with everything from players off the field become older and becoming exposed to more, it has been a challenge.
“Dealing with staff as well – it does get highlighted more what the Under-18s do compared to possibly some of the younger ages but I’ve really enjoyed that, it’s been a good challenge and one I’ve accepted and really worked hard to do well at.”