There are good managers in all divisions, but some are destined for bigger things.
A year ago, Garry Monk was being tipped for better opportunities, while not so long ago Alan Pardew’s name was mentioned when discussing potential England managers. How times change.
Yet it’s not the same when you consider Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman has been consistent at the South Coast club and led them to European qualification last season – and in theory, he could do it again this year.
The 53-year-old is out of contract at St Mary’s at the end of next season and is yet to agree an extension to his deal. The experienced manager has coached mainly in his native Netherlands, including a stint as the Oranje’s assistant manager under Guus Hiddink, but has also ventured to Spain as well.
As a player with Barcelona, Koeman reached the pinnacle of football, winning most of major honours on offer, including the European Cup in the 1991/92 season. He then returned to Barca in 1998 as assistant manager, and it appears that he has very strong ties with the Catalan club.
Rumours have been circulating again that Koeman wants to manage Barcelona – one day. He is adored at the Nou Camp after winning four La Liga titles with the Spanish giants as a player, and he bagged the winner in the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley, further cementing himself in the Catalan team’s folklore.
He has made no secret of his desire to manage the club with whom he spent six years as a player, and another two as assistant boss under Van Gaal.
Koeman said: “If I go back to Barcelona it’s like feeling back at home and we have a fantastic understanding with each other. We had a great time together and if one day I get the possibility, of course I would like to go back.”
Right now he appears happy enough at Saints, but having recently lambasted his players for lacking “belief, determination, character and mentality” in their limp 2-0 Premier League loss at Bournemouth, who knows what the future holds
You feel that Southampton is just another stepping stone for the vastly experienced former European champion and that his coaching skills will one day find themselves heading to Europe once again.
Koeman’s record of achievement is very impressive, with titles and trophies on the continent at all of those clubs that he has been involved with.
However, the Saints are a different prospect and pushing for the Champions League is all well and good, but with the current top five/six/seven next year likely spending big money, it’s possible that Koeman won’t see any top continental football at St Mary’s for some time – if ever.
And that could be the catalyst for an exit this summer or certainly next.