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Saturday 10 December 2016

Koeman hopes Saints won't sin against him

Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman

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 tomorrow.

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.

Whether they will continue to outperform expectations under Koeman's successor Claude Puel remains to be seen.

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.

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