Ronald Koeman’s impending move to Everton seems to have caused a major meltdown on the south coast. Southampton fans are suddenly sounding very bitter, claiming that their club is bigger than Everton.
If anybody has read my editorials on a regular basis over the past few years they will know that I have been massively impressed by the Saints.
However, for Saints fans to claim that they are the bigger club is like Aqua claiming they are bigger than Abba just because they have more recent hits, it’s ridiculous.
Big club or not
Sorry for all the good work done by the likes of Nigel Adkins, Mauricio Pochettino and of course Ronald Koeman, Southampton cannot come near the history, fan base or reputation that Everton have developed in their history.
Everton are a traditional powerhouse of the English game and nothing will ever take that away from the side from Merseyside. Only financial failure in the last quarter of a century has prevented them from moving forward and challenging the top teams.
It is difficult to define what a ‘big club’ is but the above criteria, along with the number of trophies won would have to form part of the answer. In truth it is all about perception.
Everton have for far too long been regarded as ‘plucky little Everton’ when in reality the only thing that was small about the Toffees was their bank balance. That is no longer the case, as they have a businessman in charge of the club who is willing to back the club in Farhad Moshiri.
Have to feel sorry for Southampton
You have to feel sorry for Southampton, its impossible not to and I seem to be writing an article every pre-season talking about the number of quality players the Saints have lost. Once again it is there boss leaving.
When Pochettino left for Tottenham I was one of the few people who stated that I thought the Saints would be better off under Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman has done a tremendous job stabilising the club in the Premier League top half, which is quite incredible considering just five years ago the Saints were plying their trade in the third tier of English football.
I could not even hazard a guess at who will be next in the Saints dugout, with the likes of Frank de Doer, Unai Emery and Manuel Pellegrini, all reported ex-Everton targets, being linked with the soon-to-be vacant position on the south coast.
One thing is for sure the Saints hierarchy know a good manager when they see one. They have a knack of making astute decisions when it comes to hiring bosses. All three of their most recent appointments in Adkins, Pochettino and Koeman have helped move the club forward.
In a healthy state
Southampton have finished eighth and sixth in Koeman’s two campaigns in charge, above Everton’s 11th position in both campaigns. However, prior to Roberto Martinez’s three-year stay as Everton boss the Toffees finish in or around the top-seven of the Premier League on a regular basis, often on a very small budget.
Anyway back to Southampton. Ronald Koeman will leave the Saints in a very good state of health. They have a very good youth system, a number of quality players and a very stable financial set-up. The club was not always as stable financially off the pitch as it is now.
The Saints finances have obviously been improved by the sales of those aforementioned star players, but they are now in a decent position, and are unlikely to go back to the dark days when the club was relegated to the third tier.
The team from the south coast are odds of 12/1 to finish in a Champions League spots next season, the same odds as Everton.
The truth is Southampton Football Club are in fine shape and much of that good work was done by Koeman. The former-Feyenoord boss was left to rebuild a squad after half the first team left in the summer of 2014, mostly to Liverpool.
He did just that with some very clever dealing in the transfer market. He was never heavily backed, as he more often than not only spent whatever money came in from the sales of top players.
Koeman seems like an ambitious guy and is believed to have been enticed to Merseyside by the promise of a big transfer kitty, something the Saints were rumoured not to be willing to give him.
Maybe Southampton fans should be asking why the clubs hierarchy were not willing to back the Dutchman, when he was obviously so desperate for the club to progress. Maybe therein lies the answer to why would Ronald Koeman leave Southampton for Everton this summer.
How will Southampton fare next season?