Ronald Koeman Deserves More Credit

Ronald Koeman Deserves More Credit

 When the Premier League Manager of the Season announcement comes in May, it will almost certainly be Claudio Ranieri that scoops the award.

In truth, only Mauricio Pochettino has any chance of beating the Italian to the award. Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic, Quique Flores and Eddie Howe have rightly garnered widespread plaudits for their respective achievements this term. The quality of those five managers has led to Ronald Koeman’s accomplishments being left to go a little off the radar, but the Southampton boss really should be celebrated for everything he’s achieving at St Mary’s.

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A seventh placed finish in his first year at the club signalled an amazing start to life as a Premier League manager, and perhaps that led to some fans expecting more of the same in this coming campaign. But achieving success is easy; maintaining it is where the difficulties start, especially in the demanding playground of England’s top flight.

Southampton didn’t enjoy the best of starts to 2015/16; Koeman had to sit out of the league opener at Newcastle due to a ruptured Achilles before seeing his side battered by Everton in their first clash at St Mary’s. August also saw the club’s first European journey for a decade brought to an abrupt end after losing to Midtjylland in the Europa League play-offs. Despite the campaign still being in its infancy, talk of the second season syndrome was already creeping in.

Even with injuries, Koeman has managed to turn things around to lead Saints back into contention for Europa League qualification once more. This is made all the more impressive given the fact Fraser Forster missed such a lengthy period. The goalkeeper’s return to action has transformed the Southampton defence to make them a far more solid unit.

That’s not to say Koeman hasn’t championed attacking football. An attacking unit of Shane Long, Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane might not boast global household names, but it’s definitely one of the most efficient in the league. Meanwhile, the January addition of Charlie Austin for £4million looks fantastic, even if his playing time has been rather limited thus far. Dutch website Onlinewedden.com suggests that the Englishman’s transfer is symbolic of the manager’s approach to dealings, which makes him the perfect fit at St Mary’s. It certainly feels like the 52-year-old has found the ideal environment to showcase his managerial talents.

Leicester will obviously be remembered as the main attraction of this season while South coast rivals Bournemouth are enjoying a fairytale of their own. However, Southampton’s ascent from League One to top 10 Premier League status should not be devalued by those other stories. While he isn’t the only man to help them on the journey, Koeman’s influence in this positive chapter certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Should Koeman be considered as Manager of the Year? No. But he certainly deserves more credit than he gets. Given their financial limitations, the Saints have marched on to great success over the past two seasons. Right now, they couldn’t ask for a better conductor.