Koeman comments show rival Louis van Gaal where he is going wrong

Ronald Koeman has been speaking about the importance of defence.

The relationship between the two new Dutch managers in the Premier League is certainly believed to be frosty, and they have something of a mixed history. The pair first linked up back in 1998 - when Louis van Gaal appointed Ronald Koeman as the assistant coach at Spanish giants Barcelona.

That ended in the year 2000. Koeman jumped ship to takeover at Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem, with Van Gaal's blessing, while LvG resigned at the end of the season - after losing out on the La Liga title to Deportivo La Coruna.

Koeman went on to become a great success at Vitesse, earning himself the opportunity to work at Ajax as head coach and it was here the two met again.

Van Gaal was coming off the back of two disappointing management spells with the Dutch national team and Barcelona. But he was appointed technical director at Ajax in 2004, which is where he and Koeman finally came to blows.

Apparently he watched Koeman's training sessions at a camp in Portugal like a headmaster assessing a pupil - which did not go down well with Koeman, now a successful manager in his own right. Van Gaal criticised Koeman in his autobiography saying he didn't have the players in hand and that he had to separate Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafael van der Vaart from a fight because Koeman was 'too weak'.

He sold Zlatan, who had become a problem, but Koeman complained in the press and shortly after Van Gaal stepped down as technical director - citing 'internal conflict'.

The pair are now believed to be on more civil terms and the ice has slightly thawed between them. However Koeman yesterday had some comments which van Gaal might have wanted to take note of in regards to defensive frailty:

"Building a house you don't start up, you start down. That makes winning teams. To win points, to win games, that starts in defence. That is the reason we bought Fraser [Forster], because he's a fantastic goalkeeper with a future in the club. We have a strong defence, it is all about organisation in the team."

To add credence to the idea that this may have been aimed, albeit accidentally, at van Gaal he also pointed toward someone he once worked with under LvG at Barcelona:

"Jose Mourinho has shown that for a long time. That's a big compliment for him. We brought in (Sadio) Mane, (Dusan) Tadic and (Graziano) Pelle, important (attacking) players, but we also brought in two centre-backs because we need competition in those positions."

Right now Southampton boss Koeman, with his side sitting pretty in second place in the Premier League after conceding just three goals this campaign, has the better over his former boss and defence has certainly been the key.

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