Belfast Telegraph

Ronald Koeman keeps Southampton criticism behind closed doors

Ronald Koeman has stressed the importance of keeping criticism behind closed doors, despite Southampton's recent poor form.

The Dutchman faces predecessor Mauricio Pochettino on Saturday, when Tottenham visit a Saints side without a win in five matches.

Koeman is wary of his side slipping towards the Barclays Premier League relegation battle, but has remained a consistently calm presence despite their declining form.

And, in the same week in which Chelsea parted company with the decorated Jose Mourinho soon after he accused his team of "betrayal", Koeman spoke of the importance of keeping his criticism private.

"I always protect my players on the outside but on the inside I am very critical of my players," the Southampton boss said.

"My job is if I am unhappy at the performance of a player I tell the player and show the player the clips why.

"Everyone in this club knows their position and knows his quality and knows what the manager expects.

"It is all about being honest. Outside, I always try to protect my players."

Koeman used a more defensive shape in last week's 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, but is expected to play a more familiar starting XI against Spurs, with striker Graziano Pelle fully fit after a knock.

"The main reason was the way Crystal Palace played," the Dutchman said.

"You can change maybe and it's true, but I expect more from our front players and the performance but also about being more clinical and to score more goals. That is the pressure for them.

"If we are still struggling in the next couple of weeks I think it is normal to think about changes to the team.

"They are close to winning the game and getting more out of the game, but it is more difficult."

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