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Southampton continue to improve despite summer changes

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After seeing the nucleus of the team that took the Premier League by storm last season be ripped apart in the summer Ronald Koeman was left facing the unenviable task of having to rebuild and start again with a Southampton side who were among some bookies' favourites for relegation at the start of the season.

However three months into the new campaign and the South coast side find themselves sitting second among the early season pace setters, only four points behind the current leaders Chelsea.

Now the question on many fans lips is what the Dutchman has done differently to a team that claimed their highest ever finish in the English top flight last term.

 

Astute signings

Left with over £85 million to spend after the sales of key performers such as Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw, Koeman began the summer by signing star performers from his native Netherlands.

He made the clever purchases of Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle from FC Twente and Feyenoord respectively for a combined total of nearly £19 million, having worked with the latter during his time in charge of Feyenoord. 

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Pelle himself scored 50 goals in 57 apps during his time in the Eredivisie and the Italian has carried that form with him to St Mary's, having scored six goals in nine games already for the Saints this term. Tadic has also earned rave reviews for his free flowing style of attacking play that has led to him contributing six assists in the Saints upward push through the table.

The Dutchman also utilised the loan market to his advantage by bringing Toby Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand in on full season loans from Atletico Madrid and Chelsea respectively. Alderweireld has formed a solid partnership with Saints skipper Jose Fonte in a defence that has only shipped five goals, the lowest of any Premier League team so far this season. 

Those buys are on top of the signing of English international goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who has already got five clean sheets to his name. Koeman strengthened heavily in both departments this summer, a move which has seen his side concede the least and score the second highest amount of goals in the Premier League overall so far this season. 

Similar ethics

Koeman has also the based the Saints style of play this season on the game plan used by his predecessor Mauricio Pochettino, moulding it to his own liking by placing less emphasis on pressing high up the pitch and becoming more disciplined as a team unit.

It's a method which has seen the Saints lose only once so far this season, to Liverpool on the opening day, as well as recording an 8-0 thrashing of Sunderland among other solid performances.

The Dutchman has also continued the tradition of giving young academy starlets opportunities in the first team, with Harrison Reed and Matt Targett becoming the latest talents to emerge form the acclaimed academy.  

Dutch magic

Huge credit must go to Ronald Koeman for the Saints early season surge. The Dutchman was not overawed by the challenge he faced in the summer and he made a number of significant changes that have proved highly successful. One that has been seamlessly forgotten is that he convinced one of the club's most consistent performers in Morgan Schneiderlin to stay for at least another season.

However with fixtures against Man City, Arsenal and Manchester United coming up within the next few weeks, Saints team credentials will certainly be put to the test, especially considering they have only played one of the top six teams from last season so far.

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Topics:
Premier League
Southampton
Football

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