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08 December 2023

Koeman believes Southampton can still rule

Southampton's Dutch manager Ronald Koeman waits for the start of the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Swansea at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, Southern England, on February 1, 2015. (AFP)


Ronald Koeman insists Southampton can still qualify for the Champions League despite seeing their aspirations suffer a major blow against Swansea.

Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey stunned St Mary's with the late winner on Sunday.

Coupled with wins for Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, their top-four rivals, and it was a bad weekend for Southampton.

Southampton have been the surprise packages this season but manager Koeman said: "We can expect that teams like Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool will win games.

"They are big teams with good players. I'm not surprised that they will come back. For us it's difficult to keep our position in the table and we know that.

"We have to be very good in every game. We saw here that if every individual player is not on his best level, then it's more difficult.    

"There wasn't one moment where we thought we could keep this (top-four) because we know it's very difficult.

"The position in the table still after this defeat is not normal for Southampton but we will keep going. We came back after defeats in December and I'm sure with that with the spirit the player have we will do it again."

The Premier League big guns are coming and Southampton showed  just why many believe they will miss out on the Champions League shootout.

Southampton looked laboured and had long run out of ideas before Shelvey's stunning 83rd minute winner for Swansea.

To add to their woes, Ryan Bertrand faces a three-match suspension after his red card for a reckless challenge on Modou Barrow.

He could land himself in further trouble having been dragged down the tunnel after a spat with Garry Monk, the Swansea manager.

Koeman and opposite number Monk later played down the row.

Monk was just relieved to end Swansea's winless run that stretched back to December 26.

The mid-table Welsh side are still coming to terms with losing Wilfried Bony to Manchester City but Monk said: "It's been a difficult month for us for various reasons.

"But we talked in the week about getting back to basics. People can say what they want outside our dressing room. We've been in a difficult moment, especially the last two games where we haven't shown that commitment.

"You can play poorly any time but not showing commitment is disappointing. Today was a very committed display and tactically very clever."

Monk has been critical of Shelvey this season but the England midfielder underlined why he is important to the squad.

"He showed exactly what he can do. When Jonjo's motivation and worth ethic is high, the quality is there to see," said Monk.

"I try to push it out of him every day, it's about getting that every day. I can push him but he has to push himself. Things like that should be a reminder of what can be achieved if you work hard.

"He's still only young and he is to take that into the rest of his career." Agencies