Wednesday 25 April 2018

Koeman not focused on top four

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is not preoccupied with finishing in the top four
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is not preoccupied with finishing in the top four

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman insists he is still looking "down rather than up" the table, despite Saints climbing to third with a 1-0 victory at QPR on Saturday.

Sadio Mane scored a 93rd-minute winner at Loftus Road to put Southampton two points clear of fourth-placed Manchester United, who play on Sunday, and only four behind Manchester City.

"I still look down more than up," Koeman said.

"Maybe in three weeks it will be different, but we are watching the teams around us at the moment and behind us. That's our focus, rather than second or first place.

"It's not all about the top four places in the table.

"We are trying to reach a European position for next season, that is the target.

"Seventh place may be enough for that or sixth."

Southampton looked on course for a third consecutive game without a win, after defeats to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and Swansea in the league.

Mane's injury-time strike, however, continued the team's charge for the Champions League spots ahead of crucial matches at home to West Ham and Liverpool.

"How we played today and the result was very important," Koeman said.

"In a season you always have some key moments and one of these was today.

"After last week's defeat, we needed to show how we like to play football and to have a good result and get three points.

"That's very good. It's our fourth win away in a row and that's fantastic."

The only negative for Southampton saw defender Matt Targett taken to hospital following a head collision in the first half.

"The doctors say he is under control," Koeman said.

"That is very good news because when something like that happens on the pitch, it can be difficult and dangerous."

Defeat for Rangers means they remain second bottom of the table after four consecutive league defeats.

Chris Ramsey and Kevin Bond took charge for the game and the duo will remain in the dugout for Tuesday's match at Sunderland as the club searches for a permanent successor to Harry Redknapp.

"It's very difficult when you're at the bottom," Ramsey said.

"It seems like the luck always goes against you, but we have to look at ourselves and realise we've got ourselves in this position.

"It's very difficult to keep believing in whatever gameplan you put together but we have to have one plan.

"We've got 19 points, the team above us has 20 and then there are some teams above the line with 20.

"If you put two wins together you can end up well away from the relegation zone."

Ramsey recalled out-of-favour forward Adel Taarabt to the Rangers starting line-up but, other than a handful of neat touches, the Moroccan struggled to make an impact and was replaced in the second half.

"Adel gave his all for the hour that he had," Ramsey said.

"He's not match-conditioned yet. We did see glimpses of the brilliance that he has and I was quite happy with his performance from a team point of view.

"I'm hoping when he becomes more conditioned he can show what he's got."

Press Association

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