Koeman: Vitesse difficult to manage
Published 29/07/2015 | 22:37
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman believes Chelsea's influence makes former club Vitesse Arnhem a difficult club to coach.
After being part of the backroom team with the Dutch national team and Barcelona, the former defender took his first step into management at the turn of the millennium in Arnhem.
Koeman's time at the GelreDome was short but relatively successful, setting him on a path which included stops at the likes of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord, Benfica and Valencia before taking the reins at St Mary's last summer.
A remarkable first campaign at the helm has led to continental football returning to Southampton for the first time in 12 years, with Vitesse now standing in their way in the Europa League third qualifying round.
"It was a great experience for me," Koeman said. "It was my first club to be first-team manager.
"At that time, Vitesse was growing. It was two years because they got some problems with the chairman at that time and with the sponsor of the club.
"After that, the club was a little bit more down and now it's in a new situation in the club because they have an owner who is connected to Chelsea.
"In my time, we played in front of 25, 26,000 people every home game and now if they play against Ajax, PSV or Feyenoord, there is 20,000 or 22,000 maximum.
"Maybe the people lost a little bit of the connection, the feeling with the club, because it is not really like before. I don't know. That's from a distance."
Koeman is referring to the relationship with Chelsea which goes back to 2010, when Vitesse became the first Dutch club to be bought by foreign investors.
Nemanja Matic, Patrick van Aanholt and Tomas Kalas are among a string of players to have swapped west London for Arnhem on a temporary basis.
Izzy Brown, Lewis Baker, Nathan and Danilo Pantic are the current crop farmed out by Chelsea - a situation which would make Koeman uncomfortable as Vitesse head coach.
"I didn't have that at that time and I don't know," he said. "It looks like it is difficult, it looks difficult for the manager because you start every season with a new team and that's difficult.
"It is difficult to have really the spirit in the team, I think, because all the young players come to play, but they still like to go back to Chelsea or even to play at a higher level.
"I don't know if I can work in that. I don't know."
Southampton are favourites to win the third qualifying round first leg against Vitesse, which Emmanuel Mayuka and Gaston Ramirez will not be available for on Thursday.
The former has been linked with a move to Spartak Moscow and told he has no future at St Mary's, while Ramirez, a club-record £12million signing in 2012, has yet to prove his worth to Koeman.
"The future is difficult because Gaston has had a lot of injuries in the last two years and that's the big problem of Gaston," he said.
"We had a good hope for this pre-season but after one week he was injured again.
"He didn't travel with the team to Austria or Holland and it is difficult because the rest of the players are in good shape.
"You come from behind and the past is not very positive. You know his situation.
"We have a lot of young people coming into the squad and we have enough strikers and for Mayuka there is no future in the club. There is some contact with Les Reed about Mayuka."