Tuesday 26 September 2017

Krueger: Saints have grown

Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has praised the togetherness at the club
Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has praised the togetherness at the club

Southampton have moved on from a turbulent summer, with their impressive Premier League form owing to the fact everyone is now singing from the same hymn sheet, according to chairman Ralph Krueger.

The Champions League-chasing Saints are defying pre-season sceptics who anticipated a campaign of struggle after manager Mauricio Pochettino was poached by Tottenham and a host of first-time regulars were signed by league rivals.

But Krueger has overseen a superb and immediate turnover of key staff and players, and with Ronald Koeman doing a great job as manager, the side currently sit fourth in the Premier League.

The summer exodus will again come into focus on Sunday as Southampton welcome Liverpool to St Mary's, with the Reds having signed a trio of players from the south coast last year.

Dejan Lovren, as well as academy graduate Adam Lallana and prolific forward Rickie Lambert all moved to Anfield in 2014, while Luke Shaw departed for Manchester United and Calum Chambers was signed by Arsenal.

However, in the build-up to Lovren, Lallana and Lambert's return, Krueger insists the club have completely moved on and - as proven with the signings of replacements such as Graziano Pelle, Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic - Southampton can attract some of the best talent in football.

"When you look at the one-league sport world in north America where there is no competition, then with football you're suddenly competing with the world," the Canadian told BBC South Today.

"It is part of the game and we should embrace that. It is exciting and challenging and you need to have your principles in place to deal with it so you don't waiver or sell out in any way, shape or form.

"We want to build a sustainable model. If you fit into that, great, if you don't we will find someone else and I think we did that pretty straightforwardly in the summertime.

"Whether clubs come and look for personnel, we have lost people at all levels, we move forward, and that is because we are confident there are good people out there and that Southampton is a destination.

"If we lose someone in any position we have no shortage in applications. We said that in the summer when the manager left and there were a lot of people thinking Southampton was a place they wanted to work at.

"It was the same with players and we have increased in being a target in football and so we have no fear of change. We have proven that change is an opportunity too and it is about what you make of it. It is in those times that you define yourself and show what you are made of."

Tipped by many to struggle through a transitional period, Krueger was full of praise for Koeman's impact and the way the former Barcelona midfielder picked up the baton of the good work left behind by predecessor Pochettino.

"We didn't interview anyone else, it was his straightforward honest approach that appealed," said Krueger.

"He has backed everything up that he spoke about. He has been really open in looking for opportunities for how we can grow as a club, he is never satisfied and is looking for growth everyday.

"I really think we have grown a lot. It has a lot to do with the clear philosophy. It is simple, we have given people responsibility. My role as chairman is to find the best possible people for specific areas and give them the responsibility and trust them and stay out of their way.

"A good example is (head of football development) Les Reed and Ronald Koeman on the football side, you see Gareth Rodgers our CEO on the financial side...we have different leaders in different places. We are a team, everyone is going down the same street together."

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