Ronald Koeman has taken plenty of plaudits during his first season at Southampton, but there is more than a hint of Michael Laudrup’s Swansea about the situation.
Laudrup took the helm at the Liberty Stadium in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ departure to Liverpool and proceeded to gain widespread acclaim as his Swans swept to the Capital One Cup on a tide of football as sexy as his haircut.
The Dane was universally credited for taking the south Wales club to a new level after their stylish promotion-consolidation campaign.
Yet their post-Wembley decline suggested that rather than lift Swansea higher, Laudrup had merely caught them as they approached the crest of a wave.
Having inherited a squad imbued with a deep understanding of a way of playing by his predecessor, he was able to walk in, tell them that it was ok to make a pass of longer than ten yards every now and again and lap up the acclaim.
If the gossip pages are to believed even Real Madrid were taken in by the effect.
There is not a grain of doubt that Koeman deserves credit for energising a Southampton side tipped for the drop after being gutted by outbound transfers.
Yet it cannot be overlooked that, despite the success of some of the replacements he has sourced, the Saints have thrived thanks to the footballing foundations left by Mauricio Pochettino.
The chief source of the robustness central to their feats still comes from the central defence/midfield quartet in which the likes of Jose Fonte, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Victor Wanyama form a roadblock in front of goal.
Meanwhile, fullbacks still fly forward around the hard core to create the width outside a narrow front three just as they did under the Argentine.
Laudrup’s Swansea shone brightly in the season’s opening three quarters before falling into a post-Wembley slump that ended only in his departure.
Southampton have won four of their 14 games since the beginning of February under the Dutchman.
Could it be that Koeman, like Laudrup a Barcelona legend with CV full of short-stay managerial tenures, will in time be outed as merely enjoying the fruits of another gaffer’s labours just as the Dane did before him? Only time will tell.