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Ronald Koeman not fazed by spat with van Gaal ahead of St Mary's clash


Southampton manager Ronald Koeman

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman wants football, rather than his strained relationship with counterpart Louis van Gaal, to be the focus when Southampton take on Manchester United tonight.

This evening’s tie will see a fascinating clash between apprentice and master at St Mary’s, where Holland great Koeman takes on the man he spent time coaching under at Barcelona.

However, their relationship took a downward turn 10 years ago when the pair worked together at Ajax, with manager Koeman feeling undermined by technical director Van Gaal.

The United boss referred to him as “that boy” in his autobiography, also describing his former protege as “weak”, but the frosty relations appear to have thawed in recent years.

That said, neither were keen to talk about their relationship in the build-up to tonight’s game, although Koeman interestingly backtracked on his initial insistence that things were now “good”.

“I don’t say good, it’s correct - maybe that’s the best word,” he said.

“When he was the national coach and I was the coach of Feyenoord, we had contact about the international players, but there are too many questions about him.”

 The pair spoke regularly in the build-up to the World Cup, with Koeman’s Feyenoord side providing five players Van Gaal took to Brazil.

“We are both Dutch managers, we like to play offensively, we like to dominate the game, but for different reasons,” he said.