Southampton’s superb September earned further recognition with manager Ronald Koeman being named Premier League Manager of the Month and Graziano Pelle carrying off the Player of the Month award too, reports Sky
Saints fans will have had major concerns heading into the season, as the club sold a host of stars over the summer months including internationals Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren all to Liverpool, with Luke Shaw joining Manchester United and Calum Chambers heading to Arsenal. The departures lead to boss Koeman tweeting a tongue-in-cheek photo of the Saints’ empty training ground.
However, after a narrow opening defeat ironically at Liverpool, Koeman’s new charges went on a magnificent six-game winning run, including all four of their September fixtures. These included the 4-0 thrashing of sorry Newcastle and an impressive 2-1 Capital One Cup victory at Arsenal.
“It’s a nice compliment,” said boss Koeman. “It’s an award and I knew that in England they give an award every month and they have the award for the best manager of the month and even the best player. We had a nice start to the season and for that, it’s nice to win of course.”
Dutch legend Koeman joined Southampton this summer, replacing Maurcio Pochettino who left St. Mary’s to join Tottenham, recognised that he was indebted to his team for the award, adding: “It’s a personal prize but, as we know we do it together. You need players with good spirit, good ambition and I’m proud of the players for the start of the season but we have to continue.”
29-year-old Pelle, meanwhile, has had quite a week. Prior to picking up his Premier League gong he made his international debut for Italy and scored the only goal in the Azzurri’s 1-0 win over a stubborn Malta.
“When I came here, the first month, it was not so easy,” said the tall Pugliese striker who has scored five goals in nine games so far for the Saints. “It was a really big difference in a good way because it was more difficult and a big challenge for me and I really hard to work harder than I usually do. To have already got the player of the month award in September is a big emotion. I have to say thanks to the trainer for giving me this opportunity to come here.”
Koeman, who had previously worked with Pelle at Feyenoord, was also delighted with the way he had adapted to Premier League life, saying: “The question was could he do the same as he did in Holland because the Premier League is more difficult to score in? It’s more difficult for strikers to score against better defenders. He’s doing fantastic, he’s scoring goals but he’s also an important player for us in the way we play.”
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