Ronald Koeman slams Southampton’s display despite 3-1 win

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Southampton beat Swansea City 3-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday, but that wasn’t enough to get special praise from their manager Ronald Koeman.

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A first half goal from Virgil Van Dijk set Saints on their way, then a goal each from Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane made it 3-0 on the hour mark and it could have been a lot more. Late on Swansea grabbed a consolation through Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s penalty kick, but it was still a very easy win for Saints as they climb up to ninth place with nine points from their opening seven games. 

Not bad, right?

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Well, despite the victory, Koeman was not best pleased with how his team performed.

“It was not a very good performance today. The way we played is not the level we expect,” Koeman told reporters afterwards. “But much more now today than normally we were clinical. That was the difference between Swansea and Southampton. You need good communication in the team but we had some problems – they were allowed four or five good shots from outside the area. At 3-0 up we should have dominated more in the last 30 minutes. We were too much in mind to defend the result rather than go and score more. I like to win and play good football.”

For large patches of the game, especially at the start of the first and second halves, Saints dominated Swansea so it’s a little strange to hear these comments from Koeman.

Sure, every coach is looking for a flawless display from his team, but given that this was just their second win of the season, perhaps Koeman is trying to keep his players’ feet on the ground and make sure they don’t get ahead of themselves. With Ryan Bertrand returning from injury at left back, plus Van Dijk settling in well and Cedric at right back, Southampton’s defense — their strength from last season as only Chelsea conceded fewer goals — seems to be back in business.

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However, after crashing out of the Europa League in the final qualifying round in August and winning just one of their opening six games of the season before Saturday’s win over the Swans, perhaps this cautious approach is necessary from Koeman.

The Dutch manager is ambitious and with a deeper squad than last season, Saints could easily better their seventh place finish from last term if they remain focused.