Can Koeman Re-ignite Southampton?
It has been a painful Summer for Southampton fans with some big names leaving the club for “bigger” Premier League clubs. The feeling at St Mary’s is a lot different than it was at the end of the last campaign where there were some stand out performances against the bigger sides which saw them finish 8th, impressive for a club that in many peoples eyes were the real surprise package of the 2013-14 campaign. The exit of Mauricio Pochettino to Premier League rivals Tottenham signaled what appears to have almost been an exodus at the club and has left new coach Ronald Koeman with a real job on his hands.
Ryan Bertrand- Chelsea- On Loan
Fraser Forster- Celtic- £10 million
Florin Gardos- Steaua Bucharest- £6 million
Shane Long- Hull City- £12 million
Graziano Pelle- Feyenoord- Undisclosed fee
Dusan Tadic- FC Twente- £10.9 Million
Sadhir Taider- Inter Milan- On Loan
Calum Chambers – Arsenal – £16 Million
Adam Lallana – Liverpool – £25 Million
Rickie Lambert – Liverpool – £4 Million
Dejan Lovren – Liverpool – £20 Million
Dani Osvaldo – Inter Milan- On Loan
Luke Shaw – Manchester United – £27 Million.
As you can see from the comings and goings Koeman is going to have his work cut out to replicate Southampton’s fortunes from last season due to there being at least 5 notable departures from their first team. Koeman a former Dutch captain started his management career back in Holland with Vitesse Arnhem in 2000 where he only spent one season which was a successful one in which he guided Vitesse to a Uefa Cup Place for the following season. Koeman soon after was snapped up by Ajax where he spent four seasons which started off successfully enough winning a League and Cup double in 2001-02, Koeman then followed that up with another League title in 2003-04. Unfortunately Ajax were in decline the following season, falling behind PSV in the League coupled with a poor showing in Europe Koeman was dismissed in February 2005. Koeman then seemed to find it difficult to stay in one place for too long doing the odd season at Benfica, PSV, Valencia and AZ Alkmaar but he still won silverware. His previous club before Southampton was Feyenoord from 2011-2014 where he unfortunately came up empty handed this would be rightly put down to Feyenoord being unable to compete with the likes of AZ Alkmaar, Ajax and PSV and FC Twente.
So what now for Koeman and his new club Southampton?
The club have appointed well, they clearly want to continue their blueprint that has stood them in good stead. Koeman likes his sides to attack and play a very similar style to his predecessor Pochettino. You can expect a high work rate, defending from the front and also a keen approach to playing out from the back another comparison would be Roberto Martinez’s Everton. Koeman has made some shrewd signings, Fraser Forster from Celtic and Dusan Tadic from FC Twente are the stand out ones. Forster’s move to the Premier League has been along time coming and a much needed one for his career to progress in a big League. Tadic is every bit the player as former fan favourite Adam Lallana and showed just as much in Southampton’s season opener at Anfield where he crafted an exquisite assist for full back Nathaniel Clyne. The biggest achievement so far from Koeman has been retaining the services of Morgan Schneiderlin, Schneiderlin looked to be on his way out this Summer with Arsenal and Tottenham chasing the holding midfield player. Koeman has made it clear he will not be sold and that he sees Schneiderlin as a key member of his squad for this campaign.
What Would Be A Successful Season?
Some pundits have said that they expect Southampton to find it difficult and see them in a relegation battle, I really can’t agree. Just look at the spirit and quality they showed at Anfield on opening day it was impressive, the one negative to take out of that game was being unable to convert their chances for much of the game they were the better side. There are still 10 days remaining in the transfer window and if Koeman can bring in a couple more players to bolster the squad I don’t see why a top 10 finish is out of the question. The one major factor will be how long the new players take to settle with many coming from the dutch league which is very different. It will take time for Koeman to get things ticking at St Mary’s but it is shortsighted to think it is all doom and gloom for the Saints.