Ronald Koeman was gifted the Golden Goose that is the Southampton job, despite a mixed record in management featuring desertion, acrimony and occasional failure, plus a few Eredivisie championships.
The 51-year-old has hit the ground running in England, with a loss last time out at White Hart Lane only the Saints’ second this season, while the other came on the opening day at Anfield.
After seven games Southampton are in the top four and now just 16/1 to still be there come the end of term, with 5/1 available about Koeman’s men achieving the more realistic target of a top-six berth by the time May is out.
For these reasons and a multitude more, the former Dutch dead-ball expert should ignore Ajax assistant coach Ronald de Boer, who called for his former national teammate to replace Netherlands gaffer Guus Hiddink four matches into his tenure.
De Boer went for Hiddink after the Oranje lost two of their first three Euro 2016 qualifiers, stating:
“Koeman was ready to take over, he was really outspoken and really wanted to take the job..With all due respect for Hiddink, he’s 67 years old. He’s done, in my eyes. Hiddink has a great record, but his ideas now are old-fashioned.
Koeman showed with Feyenoord he can really shape a team and also he knows the mentality of those young boys. Guus is more of a people manager with an arm around them. But those guys need some guidance.”
The main thing working in Koeman’s favour regarding the Oranje job is that many of the Dutch side, and a few more who are likely to break into the team soon, played under him at Feyenoord before his move to the south coast over the summer.
Senior players such as Newcastle’s Daryl Janmaat, Porto’s Bruno Martins Indi and Lazio’s Stefan de Vrii, who all left Feyenoord over the summer, and youngsters Jordy Clasie, Jean-Paul Boetius and Terence Kongolo, who still ply their trade in Rotterdam, would all feature in a Koeman Dutch setup.
The main problem with this scenario is that Feyenoord lost seven Eredivisie games last term including their first three, eventually finishing second behind Ajax and just four ahead of FC Twente, while crashing out to Kuban Krasnodar at the third qualifying stage of the Europa League.
To put a fine a point on it, they were no great shakes.
Hiddink is already proving it’s impossible for Netherlands to improve on a third-place showing at the World Cup with the pool of players he currently has.
The Dutch are 11/1 to lift the trophy in France for the first time since 1988, which seems fairly short considering their current plight, but that’s what they’ll have to do to top Louis van Gaal’s side’s achievements in Brazil.
Koeman is still a relatively young manager who could do without a potential botched international qualification on his CV, especially considering he has his hand on the tiller at English football’s most prolific factory, at the moment at least.
The Oranje’s last two managerial appointments have been in their 60s, which suggests there’s plenty of time in the future for Koeman to semi-retire.