Koeman hails spirit as Saints look to stay on top trail
Ronald KOEMAN believes that his early success as Southampton manager should be put down to instilling a positive team spirit among his players.
Saints endured massive upheaval during the summer as key players Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren left the club along with manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Despite this, they have climbed to second in the Premier League table under the stewardship of Koeman, with new recruits Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic making instant impressions.
It was not the outcome many predicted but Koeman, ahead of tonight's trip to Aston Villa, emphasised how positivity had led his side to be the only team even vaguely keeping pace with leaders Chelsea.
"In the beginning it was difficult with all the changes but the most important is to have a good spirit in the team," the Dutchman said. "They showed from the beginning a great ambition to be successful."
The mood at Aston Villa is decidedly different, with Paul Lambert's side just one place above the relegation zone. However, goalkeeper Brad Guzan believes better times are around the corner.
"Every team from top to bottom, they go through tough spells," the American said. "It's how you come out of those tough spells which speaks volumes as a group."
Guzan believes that Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster will rival Joe Hart for the England No 1 shirt before the end of the season.
The 26-year-old goes into tonight's match at Villa Park having conceded just five goals in the Premier League this season after his summer move from Celtic.
Aston Villa v Southampton,
Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.00
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.