Thursday 21 November 2019

Koeman content despite ambitions

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman believes he is ready to manage one of Europe's elite clubs
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman believes he is ready to manage one of Europe's elite clubs

Ronald Koeman is ready to coach one of the biggest clubs in Europe, but his only focus right now is continuing Southampton's scarcely-believable season.

The Dutch great's arrival during a summer of discontent at St Mary's surprised many - so too has his remarkable impact since taking the reins.

The term meltdown was bandied about ahead of a season many predicated to end in a relegation fight, yet Sunday's 1-1 draw with Chelsea leaves Saints sixth in the standings with nine matches remaining.

Such success has seen Koeman linked with a move away to one of Europe's elite clubs - a job he believes he would be up to.

"I see myself as ready," he told Spanish radio show El Partido de las 12. "I have been a coach for a while now and I have been at a few clubs.

"I have experience and this is an important detail if you are going to be a good coach, but at the moment I am only thinking about Southampton because I have two more years on my contract after this season."

England is the fourth country in which Koeman has managed after spells in his homeland, Portugal and Spain.

It is a return to the latter he is most often linked, with Barcelona regularly mentioned as a potential destination.

Koeman is listed amongst the club 'legends' after a wonderful period at Barca, where - not for the first time - he admits he can see himself managing one day.

"I think so, yes, because everyone knows what I have had with Barcelona and what Barcelona has with Ronald Koeman," he said.

"Therefore, if one day in the future I can be manager there, I would love it.

"That is football," he added, when talking about the recent pressure on current head coach Luis Enrique. "Today can be black and tomorrow can be white.

"You must prepare for everything and try to work well and win matches. Barcelona have a great team with great footballers, above all Messi. He is in his best form and nobody can stop this team."

Manchester City do, though, on Wednesday face the unenviable task of attempting to thwart Barcelona in the Champions League last-16.

Failure to overcome them would be no great embarrassment, although it would lead to pressure mounting on manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Koeman played with City's director of football Txiki Begiristain at Barcelona, leading to it being suggested that the Saints boss could soon be getting a call.

"Txiki has my number!" he said. "This is a joke.

"I have contact with Txiki because we have seen each other during the games we have played against them.

"We have to play them at the end of the season. We are friends and we have frequent contact and we are both happy to be working in England."

PA Media

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