According to the Mirror, Southampton’s new loan star Eljero Elia ‘will run through brick walls and fire for Koeman’, after the Saints boss took a punt on resurrecting the Dutchman’s dwindling career to bring him to the Premier League.
Since Elia’s well documented World Cup 2010 final appearance for the Netherlands against Spain, things have gone down hill pretty drastically in the wingers career. The then 23 year-old promised so much after his fruitful World Cup campaign, but unfortunately he has never lived up to his expected hype. Unsuccessful spells at Juventus and now at Werder Bremen, has seen Elia become more renowned for his bad boy antics, rather than his ability on the football pitch.
Ronald Koeman obviously has seen something in his fellow countryman that the majority of managers haven’t. Elia confessed to The Mirror that the Saints boss was the only one brave enough to take the gamble on him, saying:
“Koeman just had one question for me the first time we spoke: How on earth is it possible that a player who starred in the World Cup final against Spain in 2010 has lost it? Surely you haven’t forgotten how to play football all of a sudden!”
The 27-year-old added; “Koeman wanted a left winger and said he wanted to give me all his backing. There was one condition from his side. I had to work my socks off from the day I would arrive in England. I will run through brick walls for Koeman. I will even go through fire for him. I owe him everything.”
Elia certainly repaid his new managers faith in him, with two expertly taken goals at St James’ Park last weekend resulting in a 2-1 win for the Saints. The Dutch international’s brace earned Southampton a vital three points and they are still showing no signs of giving up their top four spot easily. The pacey winger showed his appreciation and gratitude to Koeman after his first goal, as he darted 50-yards down the pitch towards him in an emotional celebration.
In the little time we have seen of Elia in England, he certainly doesn’t look like a player who has lacked confidence for such a long time. With the Saints front line already looking so impressive, Elia gives Southampton that little bit extra that could potentially be the difference come May.
One major compliment we must pay Koeman since taking over at St Mary’s in June, has to be his decision-making when it comes to brining in players to the club. The former Valencia and Feyenoord boss worked wonders in the summer, capturing the likes of Graziano Pelle, Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and Fraser Forster – to name just a few – and it looks as though he has made the right call with Elia as well.
These are very exciting times at Southampton at present, in what was supposed to be a season of upheavel and struggle. It’s not too often so many changes actually benefit a football club, but that’s certainly the case at St Mary’s this season. Everybody seems to be moving in the right direction at present, and whatever happens from now until the end of the season, you can’t help but take your hat off to them.