Richard Hercock: Saints looking well set to sail clear of danger under Koeman

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman
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‘Saints to sinners’ is a well-worn headline to reflect Southampton do anything wrong so after a summer of intense transfer outgoings it was an interesting opening weekend to the Premier League.

After pocketing around £90m from the sales of half the Southampton squad, and the defection of manager Maurico Pochettino to Spurs, many had already started signing the south coast club’s death certificate at Premier League level.

One national newspaper commented: “With the possible exception of the Titanic, few high-profile departures from Southampton have caused more fuss than those of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool, Luke Shaw to Manchester United and Calum Chambers to Arsenal.”

I heard pundits predicting relegation for Southampton and they headed to Liverpool on their opening day of the campaign last Sunday as the proverbial lambs to slaughter.

Yes, Liverpool may have finished with all three points to show there will be life after Luis Suarez, but the preceding 90 minutes illustrated that the Saints will be no pushovers this season.

Ronald Koeman has stepped in to take charge and the Dutchman is very experienced as a coach, even though I cannot hear his name without thinking of poor old Graham Taylor and that infamous game when England faced Holland.

Fraser Forster is a quality goalkeeper – even if over-priced at £10m from Celtic, in the same way £12m for Hull City’s Shane Long looked on the exorbitant side – and I expect Koeman to make some more shrewd signings like Dusan Tadic and Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand.

Saints play an attractive passing game, and while the names on the back of the shirts may have changed, it looks like the emphasis on style has not altered following the summer outgoings.

So Southampton will not be bothering the bottom three in the Premier League.

This is something I cannot say about QPR. Harry Redknapp’s side looked toothless against Hull City on the opening day and these are the type of games which will go a long way to decide the make-up of the bottom half of the Premier League.

The recruitment of Glenn Hoddle as first-team coach seems a strange one, and there will obviously now be folk putting two and two together and making five, that Hoddle is being groomed for Harry’s job if things do not go right this season.

Now Harry can sell sand in the Sahara, but did he really expect anyone to buy his outpourings for his new high-profile recruit Rio Ferdinand?

Redknapp praised the defender to the hilt, but obviously must have been having a cuppa when Rio allowed James Chester to escape his attention for Hull’s winning goal.

You can be as accomplished on the ball as the very best, talk a great game watching the World Cup from a TV studio, but you simply have to defend better than that.

Just like in his last few games for Manchester United, Rio does not look like the accomplished defender he was in his glory days at Elland Road and Old Trafford.