Southampton’s manager Ronald Koeman may have just thrown his hat into the ring for the vacant Chelsea job very publicly.
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During an interview with Dutch radio station Radio 538, Koeman was asked about speculation linking him with the Chelsea job and if his countryman and friend Guus Hiddink, who is currently in charge on an interim basis until the end of the season, would be part of the decision making process in appointing the next permanent manager at Stamford Bridge.
“I don’t know. Don’t think so. Ultimately the people who have the jobs decide that,” Koeman said. “But if Guus puts a good word in for me, that could have a big influence.”
Koeman was then asked if he would like Hiddink to do that.
“Well, it’s something that I always have at the back of my mind,” Koeman answered. “I always want to achieve the highest possible level. That has happened in Holland and that’s what I’d really like to achieve abroad.”
The host at the Dutch radio station then simply replied: “That answers the question.”
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Now, what we have to be careful about here is that Koeman was obviously speaking in his mother tongue and it’s difficult to decipher whether or not these comments were made tongue-in-cheek.
After speaking with sources close to Koeman following his comments, ProSoccerTalk was told the question was put to him in a “jokey way” and he responded in a “lighthearted manner” to them asking him about Chelsea. So, despite him obviously being a ambitious manager, these comments were made in jest.
Regardless, that hasn’t stopped the British tabloids plastering his comments all over the back pages on Saturday as a “new name is in the frame” to take over at Chelsea. During his three games against the Blues as Southampton’s manager he has drawn twice and his side beat Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge this season.
You’d have to think that with Koeman, 52, having just one more year left on his Southampton contract at the end of this season, he may have been on Roman Abramovich’s shortlist already. He’s succeeded in the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal as a manager and his last 18 months at St Mary’s has been hugely impressive, leading fans of Southampton growing nervous about him potentially leaving this summer ahead of his contract ending in 2017.
Let’s see how this plays out and if the typically forthright and honest Koeman comments on his comments following Southampton’s trip to Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
With Southampton constantly raided by the PL’s big boys for its star players and managers, this would be nothing new for them. However, fans were hoping Koeman would stick around for a few more years and turn them into perennial top six contenders.