Southampton's superb start to the new season has enhanced the reputation of manager Ronald Koeman, who has been pivotal behind the impressive opening to the campaign.
The 51-year-old, who took over from Mauricio Pochettino at St. Mary's this summer, has made management look easy after knocking Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup whilst his side sit second in the Premier League.
But it is not just the results that are making people take notice, it is the style with which they are doing it that has been impressive, along with his approach with the media.
Dutch style of football
Although the Saints had been known for their high-intensity pressing and passing game under Pochettino, the Dutchman has managed to adapt this style to suit his current crop of stars, whilst maintaining if not exceeding the results it brought last year.
As well as producing an attractive style of play, Koeman seems to have the edge over his predecessor when it comes to affecting the game with a Plan B. Whilst Southampton under Pochettino often struggled to open up a tight game, Koeman has been able to spot and make a change to tip the result in his teams favour.
Victories at both West Ham and Swansea have been key examples of Koeman's tactical nouse. At the Boleyn Ground, a physical game is always expected and many Saints fans were a little puzzled to see Victor Wanyama on the bench for that game. However, with Jack Cork replacing him, the visitors were able to move the ball just that bit quicker and it saw them run out 3-1 winners.
Against Swansea, one of the most posession hungry teams in the Premier League, Koeman again went with Cork instead of Wanyama, and beat Swansea at their own game. Instead of using Wanyama to disrupt the Swans passing game, he used Cork to help his side keep posession better, and they won the game 1-0.
Koeman, who was Feyenoord manager until the start of the summer, has overseen a summer of upheaval on the south coast. This led to the majority of the outside world tipping Southampton as sure-fire candidates for relegation.
After a season of hearing Pochettino's words in his native tongue, it is also a breath of fresh air to Saints fans that Koeman already has a solid grasp of English, whilst he is also open with his assessment of his opponents.
Speaking to the club's official website before the trip to West Ham United earlier this season, Koeman confirmed in plain honestly the type of game he was expecting from Sam Allardyce's men.
“They’re an aggressive team, and play in a physical way, different to our philosophy. It’s always difficult to beat that type of team, and it will be the same on Saturday,” he said.
Onwards and upwards
With some clever additions this summer Koeman has kept the philosophy that caught many admirers last season, and with him in charge, the Saints may just be in one of the healthiest positions of recent times.
Dusan Tadic has proved more than an able replacement for Adam Lallana, whilst Graziano Pelle's goals have lessened the blow of losing Rickie Lambert.
Nathaniel Clyne's stunner against Arsenal has surely propelled him to the forefront of Roy Hodgson's mind for the next England squad, whilst keeping Morgan Schneiderlin has been a masterstroke now the Frenchman has accepted the club's position.
Although their fantastic start to the season is likely to dip at some point, it certainly gives every Southampton fan cause for optimism rather than concern, and with a manager who continues to push for attractive football, it would not be a surprise to see the Saints pushing for a top eight place come the end of the season.
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