Ronald Koeman expected slip in fortunes for Southampton

Ronald Koeman has revealed he expected his Southampton team would have a “difficult” season, having watched them surpass expectations and finish seventh in the Premier League in 2014-15.

Ronald Koeman expected slip in fortunes for Southampton

Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Tottenham left them without a victory in six and at risk of joining the battle against relegation to the Championship when many had hoped they would improve on last season’s impressive display.

“I was expecting a difficult season, because expectations (are) higher than normal, higher than what is normal for Southampton, and we need to change our attitude, and normally I’m the first defending my players,” an angry Koeman said after his team carelessly allowed Harry Kane and Dele Alli to score avoidable goals.

“The second season is always difficult for players, difficult for a team who did more than everybody expects.

“Then you have the total confidence in winning games, in playing your football. Opponents are afraid.

“Opponents at the moment are not afraid of Southampton; you have to change your attitude because it’s a new situation.

“You have to work harder, you have to be more aggressive, because that can make the change.

“It’s difficult to compare last season with the season, because some good players have left.

“We start the season with a lot of new players, and still I believe in the qualities of the players but maybe, to win this battle, we need a different type of football.

“We need players now who first are winning the battle on the pitch, and then playing nice football.”

Since leaving Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino has impressed at Spurs in building a promising team that, having reached the Premier League’s top four with Saturday’s victory, looks capable of securing qualification for the Champions League.

A concern for the manager will be that an injury to Harry Kane could disrupt their progress because of a lack of striking options — Clinton Njie will miss the coming weeks after surgery to the medial collateral ligament of his right knee — but Pochettino said his decision to substitute the England striker on Saturday was only precautionary and that despite their poor form he still considers Southampton a strong team.

“They have a very good team, very good players, a great manager, and for me one of the best squads in the Premier League,” he said.

“(And) the maturity (Tottenham) showed was fantastic, and made me really proud.

“(Kane’s) a winner, and we trust in him, we have a lot of confidence. The team believes in his quality.

"It’s only precautionary we took him off the pitch. (The same applies to Alli), he’s strong, and young.”

SOUTHAMPTON:

Gazzaniga, Cedric Soares, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama, Clasie (Ward-Prowse 78), Mane, Steven Davis (Long 64), Tadic (Juanmi 64), Pelle.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR:

Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld,Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Dembele, Lamela, Alli (Carroll 79), Eriksen (Chadli 86), Kane (Son 90).

Referee:

Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

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