MANCHESTER United are in danger of missing that coveted Champions League spot as Glenn Hoddle tips Southampton to finish in the top four – and their manager Ronald Koeman to be named Manger of the Year.
Unitede may be buoyed by recent improved form and the pre-weekend confident predictions from Louis van Gaal that he aims to make United the best team on the planet. But Hoddle pulled no punches after Koeman’s side registered their first win in the Premier League era at Old Trafford.
“Yes, its possible that Southampton will stay in the top four,” Hoddle told Zapsportz.com in an exclusive interview after the Saints victory.
Hoddle, one of the Sky Sports pundits alongside Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, is the only one of the trio who believe Saints have the capability to finish ahead of United.
Hoddle told Zapsportz.com after Southampton’s 1-0 win: “If this team finish in the top four, and it is a possibility, a strong possibility, then yes I would think Ronald Koeman would be a top candidate for Manager of the Year, I think he would be manager of the year – even above the manager who ultimately wins the Premier League.
“If he gets this club into the top four it would be a wonderful achievement, because think back before the start of the season and the club were selling so many of their players, top quality players, and people had them down as one of the favourites for relegation.
“The club also lost their manager to Tottenham, but Koeman came in, made some fantastic signings, and those players are getting better and have the capability to get even better and better.
“The key to staying in the top four is not losing any of those players in this January transfer window, or losing them to long-term injuries.
“They had a little wobble when it didn’t look as thought they could overcome top teams, but they have come through a little run now proving that they can – especially winning at Old Trafford. Now they have a run of six fixtures where they could consolidate their position and get some good results.
“Koeman set up his team tactically astute against United, and I have met Koeman a few times and he strikes me as someone who can bring calm to his team and that can affect performances. He gives them also a clarity of what he wants and just how he wants them to play.
“They clearly respect him as a manager and he was of course a great player as well.”
Zapsportz.com co-founded Hoddle believes the jockeying for position now the league is entering the second half of the campaign could count against United.
“Arsenal are coming on strong right now with a lot of their players returning at the right time,” he said. “Chelsea ad Manchester City are sure to be in the top four, which leaves it as a fight between United and Southampton, I believe
“And there is every chance of Southampton coming out on top if they can keep going with a rare commodity that Koeman has given them – belief.
“You could see that belief running through the team at Old Trafford and that result will only strengthen that belief.
“The manager and the players are not shouting that from the roof tops and thats also a good sign. They will keep that belief in house and this could prove to be one of the biggest surprises of this or an other season… going from favourites for relegation to a Champions league spot after losing their manager and so many top players.”