Southampton's latest tyro takes on the might of Manchester

Oxlade-Chamberlain faces United in tie that recalls glory of 1976

This afternoon's FA Cup tie at St Mary's will evoke memories of "1976 and all that" among many Southampton fans, but while nostalgia is always popular among supporters, the football industry is firmly focused on the future.

In the context of this match that means Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The 17-year-old son of former England international Mark Chamberlain is the latest graduate of a youth system that produced Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, as well as the less feted but still talented Adam Lallana, Andrew Surman, Nathan Dyer, Martin Cranie and Leon Best.

All these players are under 25, but only Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain are still with Saints. Since the latter is being hotly pursued by clubs as exalted as Arsenal, Chelsea and today's opponents Manchester United, he is unlikely to remain long.

This diaspora is the fate of an impecunious club, as Southampton were before the 2009 takeover by the Liebherr family. While Manchester United were able to hang on to the Beckham-Scholes-Butt-Nevilles cluster, Southampton either sold to survive, or lost players to clubs with better prospects. In that context, Lallana's decision to sign a new long-term contract earlier this month signalled a welcome change.

If there was one beneficial effect of Southampton's slide into financial distress and League One it is that young players were given early opportunities, just as Andy Carroll flourished when Newcastle dropped into the Championship. Trevor Brooking, the Football Association's Director of Football Development noted this week of the Premier League: "It used to be that mid-table clubs would blood youngsters towards the end of the season, but there is now so much at stake in prize money." For example, the difference between coming 12th and 15th will be about £2.5m this season.

The irony is that Southampton's new wealth has led to the acquisition of a string of experienced pros, from Rickie Lambert and Jose Fonte to Radhi Jaidi and long-term loanee Richard Chaplow, plus the Brazilian striker Guilherme do Prado whose signing is rumoured to have precipitated previous manager Alan Pardew's departure. As a consequence the youngsters, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lallana aside, have been pushed out, though Oscar Gobern (20) has featured recently and Aaron Martin (21) played in the third-round victory over Blackpool.

Nigel Adkins, recruited from Scunthorpe United, steadied the ship after Pardew was sacked and has steered Saints into a promotion play-off berth. Given their resources automatic promotion, albeit probably behind leaders Brighton, remains a realistic target.

So today's match is a distraction, though a delightful and enriching one which will have old Saints recalling Bobby Stokes striding through a square Manchester United defence a quarter-century ago to create one of the great FA Cup upsets.

Back then the young tyros were in the United ranks, wingers Steve Coppell and Gordon Hill. They were marked out of the game by David Peach and Peter Rodrigues respectively and it was the veterans, Peter Osgood and Jim McCalliog, plus England striker Mike Channon, who controlled the final. Stokes' goal came seven minutes from the end of an undistinguished game but his was a fleeting glory.

Aged 25 when he scored, his career quickly wound down. He played only 35 more league games. After running a pub he worked in a cafe in Portsmouth before dying, of bronchial pneumonia brought on by a drink problem, at 44.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?