By Dave Smith
DUTCH legend Ronald Koeman is prepared to compromise his ‘total football’ beliefs to ensure Southampton’s progression to the next phase of the Europa League.
The south coast club have delighted us all, under previous managers and now Koeman, with their style of play, but the current boss feels a change of approach is necessary if the Saints are to go marching in to the group stages.
That doesn’t mean to say it will be a complete abandonment of the coach’s football philosophies; just a bit of tweaking here and there.
Staying solid at the back is obviously a priority, but the Saints boss is prepared to go for a more direct approach in the attacking third to get the result they need.
Saints take on FC Midtjylland at the MCH Arena tonight in the second leg of the play-off round with the tie all square after a less-than satisfactory 1-1 draw at St Mary’s.
In a nutshell, the Premier League club need to either win or get a 2-2 draw, or more, to proceed. Koeman is not prepared to take any chances.
Opponents Midtjylland dropped deep and defended in numbers in the first leg, whilst Saints enjoyed a lot of first half possession in the first half against the Danish champions.
Koeman expects more of the same tonight, and told the Southern Daily Echo: “It is all about two games, two results, and you want to play always attractive football but the main thing is to win the game and how is not important.
“Maybe in several moments we have to play more direct, we had a lot of ball possession in our own half first half and the time that we had a little bit more pressing, better pressing, then we were the better team on the pitch.”
Koeman has had plenty of time to study their opponents, and reckons he’s got them sussed. “We know how they play, we know what the strengths are of the team,” he added in the local paper.
“One thing we know we have to score and we can’t defend a result, we have to go for it and we will go for it. That means that we have to win the game or to draw the game but more than 1-1.”
Not exactly rocket science, is it? Just go out and win the game. Simple.