Soccer Cinema: “The Southampton Way” Review

By, Kyle Gibson

With a full slate of EPL matches, New Year’s Six Bowl games, NHL hockey and more, it was easy to miss a sports documentary on New Year’s Day.

However, if you’re a Premier League fan, you should make sure you watch “The Southampton Way,” a documentary by Roger Bennett for NBC Sports.

Bennett, one half of NBC’s “Men in Blazers,” chronicled the huge effort Southampton undertook to get back to the EPL after previously falling out and into bankruptcy.

Through a five year plan, the club grew its famous youth system and gained promotion back into the top flight.

The club paid around 60 million pounds to build a new academy and training facility built on getting the most out of youth players.

The architects built the academy for players to visualize their way to the top and also made the six training pitches camera friendly, which helps the revolutionary scouting department analyze.

Bennett, who also produced the Landon Donovan farewell and US National team documentaries for ESPN this year, did a great job at making the most of his all-access.

Southampton has produced names recently such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Luke Shaw, all top developing talents. From this documentary, it’s easy to see why.

Interviewees, players and executives alike, mention that the club signs people, not just players and helps to develop them along the way.

My favorite part of the show was when executives explained the corridor of dressing rooms. The hallway starts with the Under-18 room and moves all the way down to the senior team at the end of the hall. The effect is for the younger players to stay hungry and visualize the future they can make at a club committed to having 50 percent of its first team from the academy.

Overall, this documentary did a great job in getting through a lot of material in an hour. I am a fan of Bennett and I think he did a strong job again here.

If you’re interested in seeing how one of Europe’s biggest success stories gets it done in a way most teams don’t, I would definitely check out “The Southampton Way.”


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