Hull City vs Southampton: Summer upheaval 'helped' Southampton, suggests Ronald Koeman

The Saints are currently second in the Premier League

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The Independent Football

Ronald Koeman believes the summer of change at Southampton helped rather than hindered him as an incoming manager.

Saints have been the surprise package of the Barclays Premier League season so far, after a player exodus that many thought would harm the club's chance of making progress actually providing the perfect platform for an early charge out of the blocks.

Southampton head to Hull on Saturday with 19 points from their opening nine Premier League fixtures - a points haul bettered only by leaders Chelsea.

When the likes of Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers all left during the summer, the doom-mongers gathered to predict tough times ahead for Koeman.

However, the Dutchman thinks being able to stamp his mark on the team from the off has contributed to Saints' flying start to the campaign.

"It helped, although (Dusan) Tadic was already on the scouting list at Southampton," said Koeman.

"It also came down to positions. Lallana left, so we have to bring in a similar player to Lallana. Lambert goes, so we have to bring in another striker. Spending the money in the positions that we needed was the most important thing.

"But what happened is not normal. Normally you would have to change one or two new players, instead of six or seven players. But this way it is more my team as I have my own players rather than what was left by the other manager.

"Good players, good quality players, can adapt, although it usually takes some time. This team looks like it has already been together for two seasons. But that is down to the players because they are good players."

Asked if he thought Southampton could maintain their momentum and realistically challenge for a top-four place this season, Koeman replied: "We can keep this, I'm not afraid about the situation.

"If I look at the rest of the teams, I don't think a lot of them are better than Southampton.

"I think we have gone under the radar. Maybe some people are very surprised but from the start of the season I saw what I had and I had belief, belief in the players and their spirit.

"Okay, maybe not to be second in the league at this moment, but we have good players and we play good football and everybody enjoys how we play. This is very important."

It is not only in the league that Southampton have excelled this season. Saints won at Stoke in midweek to reach the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup, where they will face Sheffield United.

While Koeman accepts being paired against the Sky Bet League One side gives his team an excellent chance to progress, the Dutchman is not getting carried away by thoughts of Wembley just yet.

He said: "I think it is a good draw because I think it can be worse, maybe Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool away.

"You have to be lucky about the draw in a cup. Again it is an away game, that's a pity, but it is a good chance to reach the semi-finals.

"We are doing a good job in the Capital One Cup, we have played three matches away and we have three wins, we have to keep that up in the next game."

"But it is too early (to start thinking about Wembley), maybe if we reach the semi-final when it is more clear, then it is more realistic."

 

Sadio Mane could return to the Southampton squad at Hull.

Mane was rested as a precaution against Stoke on Wednesday night. The midfielder was expected to train on Friday in the hope that he will be included in the squad that travels to East Yorkshire.

Koeman, whose team have won six of their last seven Premier League matches, otherwise has a full squad to select from.

PA

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