The Lowdown: Clapham’s departure from Southampton
On 1 July, Training Ground Guru reported that Ralph Hasenhuttl had appointed Clapham as the Saints’ new specialist set-piece coach. The 33-year-old had joined the Premier League side from Notts County, where he was first-team coach last season.
However, less than three months later, the same outlet revealed that Clapham had left his role at Southampton due to personal reasons.
The Latest: Dinnery’s claim
Dinnery – who sporadically features on Sky Sports – believes that it will be difficult for Southampton to find a suitable replacement for the vacant role at this stage in the season.
Speaking with Football Insider, he revealed: “It’s frustrating because big decisions on recruitment and due diligence aren’t made on the spur of the moment.
“A lot of work goes into identifying the perfect person. They need to have the right skill set but they also need to align with the manager’s thoughts.
“When someone leaves in such a short period of time, that leaves a hole. We are at the stage of the season now where you cannot just go out there and pick up a replacement to slot right in there.
“That is a problem because it’s a big expense and also because these guys are in high demand. There are cost and logistical implications.
“It’s a big job in terms of recruitment, just as it is when identifying player targets. It can go on for several months before they find the right person. So, it’s going to be a blow.”
The Verdict: Big blow
Southampton are renowned for their set-piece effectiveness – club captain James Ward-Prowse has been hailed as the best free-kick taker Pep Guardiola has ever seen, while they had the joint-fifth best record for set-piece goals in last season’s Premier League.
Therefore, Clapham’s departure could be viewed as a big blow for the Saints.
Will Southampton finish in the top ten this season?
With the expenditure that’s needed to lure another top-class specialist away from another club, it could be more likely that Hasenhuttl goes without a specific coach for that role for the remainder of the season.
Therefore, Saints fans will be hoping that the 33-year-old’s exit will not come to affect Ward-Prowse’s free-kick routine, which saw him finish as Southampton’s top scorer in the Premier League last season with ten goals in 36 appearances (eight of which came from set plays).
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