Koeman Set For Hostile Reception At St Mary's On Sundayby Andy Dillon / 25 November 2016, 15:15
RONALD KOEMAN may have six million personal reasons to be satisfied with jumping ship from Southampton to Everton.
But for the rest of the world looking in, it remains pretty unclear what he has gained from leaving behind a club on a steady upward curve to take a punt on unseating Liverpool from their Merseyside throne.
The question was asked back in the summer and it will be asked again this Sunday in no uncertain terms from the terraces when Koeman returns to St. Mary’s for a first reunion with his former club.
Koeman’s salary of £6 million a year blew Southampton out of the water - there’s plenty of that sloshing around in the docks near their ground but not so much cash.
But other than that there is precious little to choose between the two clubs right now - painfully little from Koeman’s point of view.
Four places in the Premier League and five points to be exact.
That’s the slither of daylight which greets Koeman when he looks down on his old team in 11th place and tries to reassure himself it was still a good decision.
Southampton have won two of their last eight games. Everton one.
Hardly inspiring stuff from either side of the fence.
However, Saints are juggling the undoubted demands of the Europa League as well as trying to keep pace with their rivals at home.
A 1-0 defeat in Prague on Thursday makes gloomy reading but do not forget just seven years ago Southampton plunged the depths to League One.
The fans still sing about the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the self-deprecating way only football does with gallows humour and the sense of despair.
Just being able to afford to pay for a trip to the Czech Republic this week following those dark days is a major achievement for a club threatened with bankruptcy less than ten years ago.
Everton have sat snugly in the English first division under its various guises since 1954 but for now boss Koeman is having to rebuild his team following the loss of John Stones to Manchester City.
He oversaw a series of exits as Saints’ boss too and is perhaps finding out that life is not so different at Goodison Park.
The five successive wins in September seem a long time ago now; A 1-1 draw with abject Swansea and a 5-0 hammering at Chelsea all he has to show so far for a dark and dreary November.
If Everton lose this weekend Koeman’s former club will close the gap to two just two points with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool to come even before the gruelling Christmas fixtures kick in.
Hopefully Koeman is not naive enough to expect a warm welcome down on the South Coast this Sunday.
Even when a move makes sense football fans in this country find it difficult to accept their heroes wanting different things to them out of life.
And rightly so.