When looking at the Premier League this season, one club who would be considered a disappointment would have to Southampton. The club experienced a fantastic season last year, getting themselves a place in the Europa League was a great achievement for the club and gave the club a fantastic platform to build upon. Now halfway through this season they were knocked out of the Europa League before the group stages, they are out of both domestic cups and sit in a lowly 13th position in the Premier League, just seven points from the drop-zone. They are going through a very difficult time of late; one win out of the last ten domestic games is a poor run for a team that possesses the talent that is available at the club.
There has been recent talk of Ronald Koeman possibly signing a new deal, but the fear is now that Koeman could potentially leave on his own accord. Injuries have been cruel to Koeman and Southampton this season, but this doesn’t excuse how lacklustre they have looked in a lot of games so far. The recent speculation over Saido Mane leaving the club looks like it has taken its toll over the ever popular Ronald Koeman. Normally considered a calm and charming manager who talks so well about the game, over the last month he has looked like a manger who is fed up and almost lost some faith with the group of players he has. He has publicly criticised the players and somewhat how the club has operated with the constant selling of top stars. The Southampton stature of being a feeder club almost has to change for them to ever make themselves a top club competing in the Premier League.
To continually sell on players summer after summer will catch up with them, and Koeman somewhat deserves much better than this. The recruitment this summer for the first time has looked short of what they usually produce, the arrival of Jordy Clasie will come good as he is too good a player not to, but the arrivals of Steven Caulker, Juanmi, Van Dijk, Oriol Romeu and Cedric Soares have so far proved inadequate. Martin Stekelenburg filling the void for the unfortunate Fraser Forster hasn’t had the desired effect, as he is too flatfooted and doesn’t look half the goalkeeper he has once been. Defensively the return of Ryan Bertrand was immensely important for the club, but centrally the void left by Toby Alderweireld has been hard to replace. Van Dijk, Caulker and Fonte all have a lack of pace and none are as comfortable on the ball as Alderweireld, this has resulted in them looking out of sorts at the back many times this season.
The loss of Graziano Pelle through injury has hurt the team as he is the talisman, but also the tactics of Koeman may come under scrutiny with his return. Potentially a 4-4-2 formation with Pelle and Long leading the line may be the best way forward for Koeman. Dusan Tadic needs to find a consistency again and should be playing on that left hand side of midfield. The constant chopping and changing in the midfield is unsettling the team, ultimately when Ward-Prowse, Davis and Clasie are all fit they should be the ones who are filling in the midfield in various positions.
Oriol Romeu is a decent player but on the ball he is clumsy and never looks like he quite has the control of a midfield he should have. Players like Victor Wanyama and Saido Mane; they are exactly the type of footballers fans and the media dislike, trying to force a move to a bigger club where ultimately they haven’t proved themselves long enough to be good enough to play for a so called ‘bigger’ club. Right now Ronald Koeman looks like a manager currently who feels let down by his players and the club, the recent criticism of the current under 21 group would be considered very unlike Koeman and Southampton which again puts into question how happy he is right now at the club. Ultimately a couple of back to back wins would be bring a feel good factor back around St Marys but the current position they are in may just be unsettling some supporters.
Ronald Koeman might just be assessing the point of the career he is at currently, considered an outside choice for the Chelsea job and considered a future Holland national team manager he may feel he should be working at higher level. This may lead into the case that Southampton not only cannot keep hold of their players but also their managers. The success Mauricio Pochettino is having could just be on the mind of Koeman right now that he is destined for bigger and better things. Another defeat at home to Watford may even put Koeman under pressure for the sack, this would not be a justified sacking but he may need to walk before reaching that possibility.