Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that he always knew Ronald Koeman would be a good fit at Southampton.
The Dutchman has had an impressive first half of the season as manager of the Saints after taking over from Mauricio Pochettino as his side sit in the top four at the moment.
Mourinho, who worked with Koeman at Barcelona, spoke very highly about him, “I know Ronald well, we worked together. We worked together in Barcelona on Mr Van Gaal’s coaching staff so we were colleagues.
“I know that he’s a good coach and has a good mentality and I know the football principles he defends and he likes. So for me, when I saw him get his hands on a Pochettino team, I thought he was the right guy to do it.”
After a mass exodus of players in the summer and the departure of Pochettino to Tottenham, majority of the neutrals feared for Southampton and even dubbed them as a bottom half team at best if not relegation candidates. However, with a lot of Eredivisie knowledge behind him, Koeman made some really shrewd signings after the huge funds received by the sales of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers, and did so very efficiently. Koeman’s intelligent transfer dealings made Southampton a profit of €46,33m.
The Chelsea boss commented on Koeman’s transfer dealings, “Obviously they lost some good players but they were very clinical in their choices.
“You lose Lambert, you go for [Graziano] Pelle. This kind of situation, you lose Lovren, you keep [Jose] Fonte and you go for [Toby] Alderweireld. You lose [Artur] Boruc, you go to the big guy [Fraser Forster].
“They have a very good squad, a very good coach, they’re playing well and they’re getting results. They don’t have pressure, they’re the kind of team that in this moment has no pressure because relegation is very, very far [away].
“The title is not for them, so they are in a fantastic position to play beautiful football like they are doing.”
After a run of five successive defeats in all competitions, Southampton finally returned to winning ways after dispatching Everton on December 20th. Friday’s boxing day win over Crystal Palace made it two out of two with six goals scored and one conceded. They are in perfect shape to take on League leaders Chelsea who are yet to hit top gear in the last few weeks despite winning their games.
The game will be an intriguing one as Mourinho and Koeman have never faced each other.