Koeman aware of expectations

Last summer was one of strife on the south coast, with manager Mauricio Pochettino followed out of the club by a string of key players.

The term meltdown was bandied around and many predicted relegation, yet the appointment of Ronald Koeman proved a master-stroke.

Utilising the remaining talent along with some wise reinvestment, Southampton became one of the stories of the season as they enjoyed their best-ever Premier League campaign.

Repeating that seventh-place finish looks a tough ask, but assistant Erwin Koeman knows that is what many will be expecting as Saints approach Sunday's season opener at Newcastle.

"Of course, some of them they know what the Premier League is like and you need every game, you need 100 per cent intensity or you lose games," he said.

"We lost games last year against Sunderland, Leicester, and they played with more intensity than we did.

"We won a lot of games last year and we know how to play and we like to play on the same way.

"We have to improve ourselves because the expectations also in Southampton are higher than last year."

Southampton also have the new challenge of balancing domestic and Europa League exertions, having won 2-0 at Vitesse Arnhem on Thursday to secure their place in the play-offs.

Danish champions FC Midtjylland lie in wait but first comes the trip to Newcastle - a match for which Jordy Clasie and Shane Long are doubts through a hamstring complaint and illness, respectively.

Saints are also set to be without their manager Ronald Koeman after undergoing surgery on a ruptured Achilles on Friday, meaning brother and assistant Erwin will take the reins at St James' Park.

"I think Newcastle will have big expectations for the new season with a new manager, with some new signings," he said.

"I think they have good players, they have a good team, they have of course a crowd of 55,000 people behind them.

"We have to prepare ourselves very well for that game

It will be a lot intensity in that game.

"Again, we may not be sloppy like Thursday in ball possession and we have to defend very well against them.

"We will see what happens because I think they are also looking at Southampton to play against us.

"Last year we win over there but it will be a tough game, a tough opener, but we all are looking forward to playing against Newcastle there."

Source : PA

Source: PA