Former Koeman team-mate lifts lid on Saints boss' management style

Southampton Football Club

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman has masterminded a strong start to the Premier League and one former team-mate reveals roots of defensive discipline.

"He knew he was good," said Rob McDonald when reminiscing over the year he spent being Ronald Koeman's team-mate at FC Groningnen in the 1982-83 season.

Koeman, now in charge of the dugout at Southampton, has overseen a period of stability at St Marys after a summer of transfer upheaval threatened to be turbulent.

After sales of After ratifying almost £100 million worth of player sales, that included the transfer of Luke Shaw to Manchester United, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallane and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool and Calum Chambers to Arsenal, almost half of a first team had disbanded from the South Coast after a successful season last year where the Saints finished eighth in the Premier League.

Koeman, though, oversaw a good recruitment drive and a strong start to the current domestic campaign as Southampton have notched seven points after four games and currently reside in fourth place.

What is most impressive, though, is that Southampton have conceded just three goals, a fewer total than pace-setting Chelsea, than Arsenal, than Liverpool and defending champions Manchester City.

The foundations for Koeman's ability to appreciate defensive discipline may have come from his playing days, when he transitioned from midfield into a centre back akin to Bobby Moore.

"He played in midfield to start with and then later on in his career he dropped back to be a libero-style central defender. He wasn’t quick and he was never good on one-on-ones but he was just so good at reading the game.

"He was a bit like Bobby Moore but not as good a tackler. He had great vision and superb control. You could tell when a ball was coming he already knew what he was going to do with it."

McDonald continued: "The English game is a totally different ball game to over here in Holland. There is a different way of motivating. But his training will be great. It will be very methodical and very much the Dutch system. He likes to play. He doesn’t want to be whacking it forward quickly. He’ll want to build it up and play attractive football.

"He’s got them playing some good stuff and I can see him making a big impact there. I saw the game against Liverpool and Southampton were the better team. He has got a great vision of how he wants to play. He reads the game well, just as he did as a player, although he’s never been famous for being a man-manager."

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