Ronald Koeman is not expecting a happy reunion when he returns to Southampton as Everton manager on Sunday.
The Dutchman spent two seasons at St. Mary’s Stadium before making the switch to Merseyside at the start of the campaign, having led Southampton to finishes of seventh and sixth place respectively, in the Premier League.
His departure to Goodison Park did not go down well with some sections of the Southampton support, though, with many suggesting Koeman was making a sideways step.
The 53-year-old acknowledged it will feel special returning to the south coast and he is hoping Saints fans at least show him some respect.
“It’s special because the last two seasons I had a great time and the club was very successful,” he told a media conference on Friday. “I was proud about my time there.
“I don’t know about my reception. I cannot change opinions, feelings of Southampton fans.
“I hope they will respect me. We had a great time and after my career I will look back [fondly]. I understand different opinions and reactions – I am not afraid of that.
“It’s time to think about Everton. I made the choice [to leave Southampton] and I’m really happy. It [Everton] is a big club with a big history.
“The manager changes, players change – that’s football. Look forward, it’s the best that you can do.
“But I’m really happy I made the move.”
Everton goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg will also be returning to St. Mary’s for the first time since he spent last season on loan at Southampton from Fulham, and Koeman is happy the Netherlands international has settled so quickly.
“I think we brought Maarten in to get competition in the keeper position,” he added. “Finally the choice was to start with him and so far he is doing what I expected.
“Joel [Robles] is every day trying to give Maarten the best competition and he showed versus West Ham that he is able to play very well.
“Overall I am happy with Stekelenburg – I expect him to carry on this way. It’s always good to improve, but he had two years without any regular competition.
“But he is an experienced keeper and first choice for the Netherlands national team because he is playing well and that’s what I want to see.”