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Ronnie Whelan: Ronald Koeman an example to moaning managers


Southampton manager Ronald Koeman

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman

RONALD Koeman bumped into an old foe at Old Trafford yesterday and left Louis van Gaal looking a bit sheepish.

 It was a sweet moment for a manager who is impressing everyone he comes into contact with in the Premier League.

What I like most about Koeman is the ocean of common sense he sails in. He tells the truth and I love the fact that he never moans, never gives in to the temptation to complain.

When you look at the problems he's had to cope with, both van Gaal and Brendan Rodgers could take a leaf out of Ronald Koeman's book. If anyone deserved to have a gripe and a groan about his lot this season, it's him. As he walked in the door, Southampton's best performers from last season were on the way out..

When Liverpool and Manchester United struggled, the managers rolled out the excuses, this Dutchman kept his thoughts to himself about his problems.

It is difficult not to be impressed by him and his team. Southampton and Koeman did to Manchester United yesterday what Alex Ferguson did to so many teams. They won ugly on the road and by a single goal. Perhaps that's the difference between Southampton last season when they didn't do so well against top teams and this.

Koeman has added some steel to the framework Neil Atkins and Mauricio Pochettino developed and without any fuss, found some players to replace those sold for big money last summer.

I thought his comments before the game were very interesting and one or two managers at bigger clubs should take what he is saying on board. Koeman suggested that no good manager should need a lot of time to develop a team once he has good players.

Allowing for the fact that he was having a pop at van Gaal who claims he will need two years to make Manchester United great again, he has practised what he is preaching at St Mary's.

Let's be honest, is there anyone out there who thought that Koeman had a prayer of doing what Pochettino did last season after watching Adam Lalana, Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers and Dejan Lovren leave during the summer for a lot of cash?

I certainly didn't. With hindsight, it looks like someone knew what they were doing on the South Coast. You could hardly say that any of the four players mentioned have been Player of the Season standard at their new clubs.

Southampton have taken seven points off Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in the last few weeks, a dramatic turnaround from a mini slump in December .

During that brief, ropey spell, it looked like Southampton were repeating the standard formula for a small club on a good run. After a while, legs grow tired and squad depth is tested to the limit before cracking.

It seemed like the most likely scenario when a 3-0 defeat by champions Manchester City on the last day of November was quickly followed by losses to Arsenal and Manchester United. Even more damaging was a 1-0 defeat by Burnley and an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Sheffield United.

But the response has been fantastic since that low point.and instead of blaming all around him, Koeman dipped into the amazing bag of tricks which is the Southampton reserve team and ploughed on.

It is deeply ironic to me that two of the managers who benefited from Southampton sourced talent, Rodgers and van Gaal, have done most of the complaining in the Premier League this season.

On paper in August, I don't think anyone would have made the claim that Koeman had better players than either Liverpool or Manchester United yet van Gaal gave a sob story about injuries and failures in the transfer market. Now, with all his men fit, Manchester United lose to Southampton. Rodgers has had plenty to complain about sure, but he isn't shy about wheeling out excuses.

Give me Koeman's approach any day. He's never rude and most of the time he just tells it as it is. It's that typically Dutch common sense and pragmatism and there is no ego on show.