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Southampton facing tough search for Pochettino’s successor

| 28.05.2014

Southampton, 12/1 with Coral to be relegated from the Premier League next term, begin their search for a new manager, following Mauricio Pochettino being poached by Tottenham.

Coral experts take a look at the leading candidates to succeed the Argentine in the St Mary’s dugout, and they broadly fall into one of two categories. There are young bosses and more experienced managers; both have pros and cons.

Ronald Koeman – 4/1
Feyenoord’s outgoing gaffer came from nowhere overnight to briefly lead a fluctuating market. He played for his native Netherlands’ three big clubs (Ajax and PSV Eindhoven plus the Rotterdam giants), and has since gone to manage them all as well.

Koeman has also coached big teams like Barcelona, Benfica and Valencia, so the Saints landing him would be something of a coup. During three seasons at Feyenoord, he has placed faith in young players, which certainly fits the mould on the south coast.

Despite a stellar career as both a player and in the dugout, Koeman has no knowledge of English football, though. That looks to be the only negative against his name, however, and a progressive 4-3-3 system would be retained from the previous regime if Southampton swoop.

Murat Yakin – 7/2
As the Saints have Swiss ownership, this up-and-coming coach would appeal to them. Yakin recently left FC Basel after a hugely successful spell, which included back-to-back domestic titles and wins in Europe over both Tottenham and Chelsea.

Like Pochettino, he fits the mould of a young coach at just 39 years of age and, like Koeman, will not cost anything in terms of compensation. Yakin’s spells away from his native Switzerland as a player, however, were far from successful.

He tried on four different occasions to make the jump to Bundesliga and Turkish Super Lig football, but always found himself returning to the Confederation. Yakin also has no working knowledge of English football.

Michael Laudrup – 9/2
Former Swansea manager Laudrup has reached an agreement with his old employers over his sacking in February, so may be ready to manage again. He is thus a free agent, has 20 months as a Premier League boss under his belt and picked up silverware during that time at the Liberty.

The fact that Danish legend Laudrup is a major footballing name, who could attract players, should not be lost on Southampton’s hierarchy. Continuity in approach from Pochettino would be assured, as he also sets teams out in that 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 tactically.

While that is all positive, there should be some reservations about Laudrup. He has seldom been an appointment for the long haul at previous clubs, and was removed from the Swans when the going got tough.

Laudrup has also shown he likes to spend, but the Saints may not be able to do that because of outstanding transfer fees and a training ground to pay for. There are certain facets about his approach, therefore, which may go against the grain at St Mary’s.

Steve McClaren – 7/1
Derby County and ex-England boss McClaren has placed faith in a young team at Pride Park, and is an experienced choice the Saints could turn to. He went abroad and sensibly adapted his style during time in Dutch and German football as a result after the Three Lions disaster.

A budget may be imposed on whoever takes on the St Mary’s vacancy because of their debts, and McClaren certainly worked well within one at Middlesbrough, winning the League Cup and reaching the UEFA Cup final.

He seems settled and committed at Derby, however, as it is a club he has played for and coached at before. There remain question marks over McClaren when he has big tasks to do; his England failure, Boro being battered by Sevilla in Europe and that agonising recent play-off final defeat, for example.

Neil Lennon – 10/1
Northern Irishman Lennon left Celtic seeking a challenge, and he would certainly have one on his hands at the Saints. There is no doubting he enjoyed a successful spell north of the border, and the fact he spent 15 years of his playing career in England only enhances his credentials.

Lennon is a protégé of Martin O’Neill, but was a big fish in a small pond at Celtic. Southampton’s owners should not be seduced by this, because he steered the Bhoys to two of this three Scottish Premiership titles without Old Firm rivals Rangers to press them, and failed to add either domestic cup to his trophy haul in 2013/14.

Other candidates
Eddie Howe and Oscar Garcia (both 12/1) only seem to be linked the Southampton vacancy because they managed other south coast clubs this season. Howe looks set to remain Bournemouth boss after a botched move north to Burnley, while Garcia quit Brighton as they bottled it in the Championship play-offs again.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet (7/1) also fits into this category because of his stint as Seagulls manager, but has started a rebuilding process at the Stadium of Light. Roberto Di Matteo (16/1) would be an interesting shout to end his exile from management at the Saints, as the former Chelsea midfielder and Italy international was born in Switzerland.



Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.