Saints ‘really, really confident’ of keeping Koeman

Ian Watson
Ronald Koeman: Disappointed by Michael Oliver

Ronald Koeman: Questions asked over his future

Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger is “really, really confident” Ronald Koeman will still be manager next season and believes the Dutchman should be excited about staying at the club.

Koeman signed a three-year contract when he took over at St Mary’s in June 2014 but he will soon enter the final 12 months of that deal and is yet to commit any further.

The former Barcelona defender has been linked with a return to the Nou Camp as coach but Krueger believes Saints can convince the 53-year-old to stay put.

“Next year? I’m really, really confident he will still be manager,” Krueger told Press Association Sport.

“Beyond that, those are the conversations we’re having now and they’re really good. I like where we’re at. We’re in a whole different place than where we were a few years ago.

“It’s a much more mature time for Southampton. For me if I was manager here I would be really excited about being here and the conversations we’re having seem really good.

“The way we are is we want everyone to be sure they can grow in their role at the club. That begins with our most important (person) – Ronald and his role – and as long as that matches, it’s great. We feel good about that right now.”

Krueger was speaking after Southampton announced a seven-year partnership with American kit supplier Under Armour on Thursday, and Koeman admitted the club’s ambition will be key to his future.

“It shows Southampton is growing as a club and it’s an important brand to have for seven years,” Koeman said.

“It’s all about the ambition of the club, which direction the club likes to go but still I have one more year of my contract. We see what happens.

“I wait for the club to come and we have a talk. There is time enough to talk about it. Have official talks started yet? No.”

Ronald Koeman Southampton

Koeman led Southampton to their highest ever league finish of seventh last season, despite another summer in which the club sold key players.

Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne were both allowed to leave, while Toby Alderweireld joined Tottenham instead of making his loan deal from Atletico Madrid permanent.

Krueger, however, is confident the club will hang on to its star names this time around.

“We can speak about what was lost but look at the talent we brought in – Virgil (van Dijk), (Sadio) Mane, Victor (Wanyama) – these players are not even near their prime yet,” Krueger said.

“I see keeping the core together as our vision and to keep those players in place and let them evolve and get them excited about doing that, that’s in the air and that’s what we’re fighting for.”

Koeman said: “If we can keep all the players, we don’t need a lot of new players – maybe one or two.

“What we need to do is be prepared if we lose one or two or three players, that’s the business of what we have to do at the moment. But we don’t change a lot, no.”

Southampton travel to Everton on Saturday, sitting seventh in the table and looking to strengthen their bid to qualify for the Europa League next season.

Koeman has been making his squad do drills to improve their communication as he believes an obsession with headphones and mobile phones is having an effect on his players.

“We do exercises every week. We don’t put them in one room but we do different exercises on the pitch,” Koeman said.

“It’s not natural for young players any more because they don’t talk. Everybody is in their own world and you have to help them with that.

“If I have dinner with my kids and you sit on the table, the first thing we do is put telephones away and we talk. If not they use telephones. That is the new generation.

“We have rules in the team. If we stay together we don’t have telephones. If you need to use your telephone, you stay out of the team.”

Charlie Austin will miss Saturday’s game at Goodison Park after twisting his knee in the warm-up before last weekend’s win over Newcastle.

Steve Davis, however, has recovered from an ankle problem and is available.