Double delight for Saints with Koeman and Pelle scooping prizes
Many would not have expected Southampton to be sitting third in the Premier League two months into the new season, following a mass exodus from the club in the summer.
The Saints, who are 7/2 with Coral to secure a top six finish, had to come to terms with the exits of manager Mauricio Pochettino, and star names Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers. In came Ronald Koeman, who masterminded a recruitment policy, bringing in players that have all had key roles in Southampton’s sensational start.
As a result, Koeman has now been awarded the Premier League Manager of the Month accolade for September and, in more good news for the club, one of the Dutchman’s new signings, striker Graziano Pelle, has scooped the Player of the Month award. The Italian has been clinical so far this term, netting five times in all competitions, and scoring on his Italy debut in his country’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Koeman is wary of complacency creeping into the squad, and said: “Maybe everybody was a little bit afraid, didn’t expect the way we would play in the beginning.
“But all the changes in the team, we had to bring in a lot of new players, and then the team was working well. Maybe the people were surprised about that and maybe that’s the reason I’ve won this prize.”
Koeman was also full of praise for Pelle, who he managed at Feyenoord, and said of the player, who netted a superb volley against QPR. “These awards mean that we – not me, but we – did a good job in September,” he added.
“It’s a compliment for me as manager, for the technical staff and for Graziano as the player,” continued Koeman, who recently dismissed rumours linking him to the Dutch national team job.
“But it’s only the start of the season, and what’s behind doesn’t count any more.
In response to Ronald de Boer’s claims that he should replace Guus Hiddink, he said: “I am the manager of Southampton, I am not the national manager and I will not be the next national manager.
“He said the same thing last season when the Federation chose Hiddink,” said Koeman, referring to De Boer. “He said that this team needs a younger coach, a coach from a new generation.
“We are not happy about the performance of Holland. After this bad start for the Europeans, it will be difficult. Of course, I would prefer if Holland would win as I’m Dutch.”
Southampton take on Sunderland next, in a match they are odds-on at 4/7 to win, and could effectively jump to second in the table should they take all three points. Pelle, meanwhile is 9/2 to open the scoring.