Ex-Canary Fleming relishing Norwich test

By SFC Media Thu 26 Mar U 18

There are few in the Saints camp better placed to plot the downfall of Norwich City this weekend than Southampton's new Under-18 assistant coach Craig Fleming.

The Yorkshireman, who spent ten years of his playing career with the Canaries, linked up with his new colleagues at Staplewood last week.

And, ahead of the visit of his old club to the south coast for a Barclays Under-18 Premier League play-off clash on Saturday, Fleming told saintsfc.co.uk that, despite his past loyalties, he’ll be doing his upmost to help his new team record their second successive victory.

“I spent 10 years there, had a testimonial, won the Championship, and I’ve got some very good memories there,” said the 43 year-old, who made well over 300 appearances in a yellow and green shirt.

“When you’re in a team like that, that actually wins things, there’s so many memories, there are so many. It’d be difficult to pick out one moment. We did have a tour of the city when we won it when over 100,000 people came out – that was just amazing, that was incredible – in the city centre.

“I’ve lived there for the last 20 years, so it’s a club that is special to me, I’m not going to lie. But I still want to beat them!”

Before joining Southampton, former centre-half Fleming had been at Lowestoft Town, overseeing the Trawler Boys’ rise from the Eastern Counties league to the Conference North.

And, as Fleming explains, there is one face that is familiar to him amongst the Saints coaching staff.

“I’d known Martin (Hunter, Technical Director) from my time at Norwich when he was assistant manager and caretaker manager – I’d known him before that for quite a while, so I knew his character and the place, the reputation of the place,” he said.

“I was captain at the time and he was the coach, so we had a good working relationship, very good – he’s a very good coach.

“I came down for a couple of chats with Matt (Hale, academy manager), Martin and the guys and the place is fantastic, and just the record that it has of producing players is a great one.

“The place is just friendly, to be honest with you – that’s one thing that really struck me. I’ve been here a week now and the people here are just so open, so friendly, right from the very top all the way down.

“The whole club seems to be one club, which is fantastic.”

Fleming will work alongside Anthony Limbrick as Southampton Under-18s look to finish the campaign strongly in the final five games of the season, starting with the Norwich clash this weekend.

The Halifax-born defender-turned-coach feels it’s a coaching partnership that could flourish in the coming months.

“Anthony and myself are quite a good mix, to be honest. Anthony’s a fantastically gifted technical coach. I’ve seen him work before I came here, and seen bits on the internet and stuff like that and heard good things about him and obviously with my playing career and experience, I think we make quite a good partnership,” he said.

“It’s that kind of age where you’re still trying to develop players and make them better players, and then you need to get that transition that actually they’re going to go into the first team and that’s a results environment, so its just getting the right balance with them to be honest. It’s an interesting period.”

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