Louis van Gaal may be capturing the imagination and headlines as he starts his new job at Manchester United, but down on the south coast of England there is another Dutch legend who’s preparing to stamp his own mark on the Premier League.
Ronald Koeman, the former Feyernoord manager, will embark on his maiden Premier League campaign with Southampton and the pair could complement each other quite nicely. It was quite a coup for the Saints to land Koeman, especially as the club had lost a number of key personnel including Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and, of course, Mauricio Pochettino.
Losing such important talent would no doubt concern fans of Southampton with fears that the owner of club, Katharina Liebherr, was in the process of asset stripping but Koeman’s arrival has gone some way to allay concerns and he’s already made moves to fill in the gaps left by the exits of Lambert and Lallana.
Upfront, he’s purchased Italian striker Graziano Pellè from his former club Feyernoord. Under Koeman the Italian striker enjoyed the most productive period of his career scoring 50 league goals in 57 games for the Eredivisie outfit. Koeman described Pellè as “a tall striker with a lot of movement and he’s fast. He’s a player who gives confidence to the team because he keeps the ball, and he’s very dangerous in front of goal.” Indeed Pellè is comfortable using both feet and is capable of scoring all types of goals. He can be a prickly character too, as seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnkFfPUxf5o
Strikers coming from the Eredivisie to the Premier League have had a mixed record. For every Ruud van Nistelrooy, there’s been an Afonso Alves or Mateja Kežman. However, Koeman’s working relationship with Pellè could be key in ensuring that the new Southampton striker bags a few goals for the Saints.
Southampton also hope that the signing of Duŝan Tadić from FC Twente will fill the creative void left by Adam Lallana. The fleet footed Serbian primarily plays on the left but is adept playing as an attacking midfielder or on the right. His flair for dribbling could give his opponents trouble especially if he settles in quickly; and he has an eye for goal too, scoring 16 times in the 33 league games.
Koeman has his eyes on a few more targets with rumors suggesting that he’s after Celtic duo Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk. He has also thus far been successful at keeping Dejan Lovren at the club, but his transfer acumen is probably not the key reason he was brought in.
Southampton’s youth academy has produced the likes of Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and of course Gareth Bale. It is recognized as one of the best youth systems in England but for it to succeed they need a manager who is willing to place his faith in young players. In Koeman, they have a man who has experience of bringing through youth team players and seamlessly transitioning them into the first team.