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Everton boss Ronald Koeman hopes to get respect from Southampton fans

Published 25/11/2016

Everton manager Ronald Koeman hopes Southampton fans will remember the good times when he returns to St Mary's
Everton manager Ronald Koeman hopes Southampton fans will remember the good times when he returns to St Mary's

Ronald Koeman hopes Southampton fans will show him respect but is not afraid of a negative reception when he makes his first return to St Mary's on Sunday.

The Dutchman angered a lot of Saints supporters when he decided not to honour the third year of his contract and left the club for Everton this summer.

Koeman said: "I and the rest of the technical staff, we had a great time over there, but I'm the Everton manager, we play away, a difficult game.

"They need the points, we need the points, but of course it's special because the last two seasons I had a great time, the club was very successful and I was part of that and proud about my period in Southampton."

Koeman appeared to face a daunting task when he took over from Mauricio Pochettino but, despite seeing key players depart, the club's upward trend continued.

Saints finished seventh and sixth in two seasons under Koeman, qualifying for the Europa League both times.

Asked what reception he expects to receive, the 53-year-old said: " I don't know. I cannot change opinions, feelings of the Southampton fans. I hope that they will respect me.

"We had a great time and, after my career, I will look back. But, of course, I understand different opinions, different reactions. I'm not afraid of that.

"It's time to think about Everton. I made the choice to move and I'm really happy with what I'm doing at Everton. It's a big club with a big history.

"What happened in the past is the past and I have a good feeling about what happened the last two years but they have a new manager and that's football.

"Managers change, players change and now it's looking forward. I think that's the best thing you can do."

Koeman's departure was accompanied by the loss of more high-profile players, with Victor Wanyama joining Tottenham and Sadio Mane following the well-trodden path to Liverpool.

Whether they will continue to outperform expectations under Koeman's successor Claude Puel remains to be seen, but the Dutchman said of Saints' success: " I don't know if it's a secret.

"Before I was there they had good managers, very successful, and the club is a stable Premier League club. That's a big achievement what Southampton did in the last five or six years in a row.

"Of course we had good signings and they sold a lot of good players, but it's good people in the club working to get that stable situation that they have."

Puel's team head into the clash with Everton in 11th place, five points behind their opponents.

Both are looking to bounce back from disappointing results - Southampton a Europa League defeat by Sparta Prague and Everton a heavy loss to Chelsea followed by a home draw with Swansea.

Koeman thinks his former club are feeling the effects of competing on different fronts.

He said: "They play in different competitions, they rotate a lot. Everybody's happy I think because they are playing but if you play in the League Cup and in the Europa League on Thursdays it's difficult.

"They are strong, they are strong at home. Maybe they have the pressure because they have 14 points and we have 19 points. Both teams need a win after a difficult time in the last couple of weeks."

Everton have no new injury problems and welcome Gareth Barry back from suspension.

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