Koeman keen to establish Bournemouth rivalry

Mark Scott
Ronald Koeman: Praise for Stoke

Ronald Koeman: Praise for Stoke

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman views Bournemouth as a rival with the two South Coast teams ready to go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon.

With the club’s biggest nemesis Portsmouth way down in League Two, Koeman is happy to bill the visit of the Cherries as a derby.

Just 31 miles separate St Mary’s from Dean Court and the Dutchman has placed local bragging rights on the line.

“In my opinion it’s a derby – but maybe not the biggest one, because there’s not a lot of history between both clubs,” he told saintsfc.co.uk.

“I hope that they will stay in the Premier League so that we will get a few years in a row to play against each other.

“Normally, it makes it a little bit easier for the manager because they (the players) have that feeling of it being a derby.

“Everybody will have more attention to the game, and that makes it a little bit more special. You need that to be successful.”

The two sides have only met each other in 22 competitive games, with Southampton winning the last three, which all took place in the 2010/11 season with both sides in League One.

Saints included the likes of Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back then, as well as Jose Fonte, who provides a link to those third-tier meetings and Sunday’s top-flight clash.

Southampton will not be able to call on strikers Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long, who both remain out.

Rodriguez’s return from a 16 month lay-off is being held up by pain in his feet, though he should return to full training next week, while Long has an ankle problem.

Yet they may not be missed if the good form of Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane continues.

The pair have contributed 10 goals combined in the last seven matches, but their manager was keen not to pick out individuals for praise.

“I think not about one or two players,” he said.

“Of course they are important players because they are scoring goals.

“They are important, but the rest of the team gives them the chance to score and to be important

“(But) I am happy if they continue like this.”