MATT Crocker’s appointment as Saints’ new director of football operations comes as the club continues their restructuring.

In the last year, they’ve parted ways with Les Reed, Martin Hunter and Ralph Krueger, with Ross Wilson also leaving for Rangers.

This saw Martin Semmens become Saints’ chief executive, giving him the opportunity to right the wrongs that had gone before him.

Crocker is his first major appointment and should be seen as quite a coup on the St Mary’s side’s behalf.

Spending six years as the club’s academy manager from 2006 -2013, he oversaw the development of players such as Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Luke Shaw.

Current members of the squad also remember the impact Crocker had during his time on the south coast.

This includes James Ward-Prowse and Jack Stephens, with the new director of football operations showing the defender round Staplewood when he joined from Plymouth.

Crocker left Saints in 2013 to go and work for the FA as their head of development team coaching and built up a solid reputation within the governing body.

It’s believed that he was due to become the FA’s technical director, only for Reed to pip him to the post after being axed by Saints.

Despite the fact he’s returning to St Mary’s under the same title as Wilson, his role will be more akin to what Reed used to do.

There is an expectancy that he will oversee the entire operation of the club, which ranges from Under-8s coaching to offering the receptionist a pay rise and everything else in between.

It’s understood that manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is also on board with Crocker’s appointment.

However, because the former academy manager won’t start his job until early 2020, the Daily Echo understands that Semmens will continue working closely with Hasenhuttl.

It’s believed the pair speak for up to two hours a day, discussing a whole host of football-related topics.

The aim is for Semmens to eventually step back from this aspect of his job once Crocker has struck up a relationship with Hasenhuttl.

That will then afford Saints’ chief executive time to continue searching for an additional body to come in and help Martyn Glover in the recruitment department after he joined from Everton back in April.

There is set to be an overall restructure of the way players are signed by Saints, with it becoming more of a group decision.

They believe this will give them a higher success rate of getting it right in the transfer window.

Once the new backroom figure comes in to work with Glover, the two of them, the scouts and Hasenhuttl will all have a say regarding new arrivals.


There is also renewed optimism amongst Saints’ staff at their Staplewood base following the club’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal last weekend.

They used the international break as a time to hit reset and go back to what was working when Hasenhuttl first arrived.

This was seen at the Emirates Stadium when Hasenhuttl reverted back to playing his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation, much to the players’ delight.