Aston Villa vs Southampton preview: 'Saints' spirit crucial to great start,' says manager Ronald Koeman

Saints are flying high in second place

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The Independent Football

Ronald Koeman believes his early success as Southampton manager should be put down to instilling a positive team spirit among his players.

Saints endured massive upheaval during the summer as key players Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren left the club, along with manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Despite this, they have climbed to second in the Premier League table under the stewardship of Koeman with new recruits Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic making instant impressions.

It was not the outcome many predicted but Koeman, ahead of Monday's trip to Aston Villa, emphasised how positivity had led his side to be the only team even vaguely keeping pace with leaders Chelsea.  

“In the beginning it was difficult with all the changes but the most important is to have a good spirit in the team,” the Dutchman said. “They showed from the beginning a great ambition to be  successful.”


The mood at Aston Villa is decidedly different with Paul Lambert’s side sat just one place above the relegation zone. However, goalkeeper Brad Guzan believes better times are around the corner.

“Every team from top to bottom, they go through tough spells,” the American said. “It’s how you come out of those tough spells which speaks volumes as a group.”