Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has praised the work of Southampton boss Ronald Koeman, who has led the Saints to currently third spot in the English Premier League table after earning 15 points from their last six league matches despite seeing a number of their key players of last season depart St Mary’s, along with former manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is currently in the Tottenham Hotspur hotseat.
Hughes’ Potters travel south on Saturday to take on their in-form opponents Southampton where the hosts last weekend demolished visitors Sunderland 8-0, and while the Stoke boss insists that his visiting team will certainly be no pushovers, he was quick to hail Koeman’s side.
Regarding the sweeping changes made at Southampton, Hughes said: “When it happens in such a short space of time it’s difficult because they lost their manager and they lost two or three key players who had been exceptional for them the year previously.”
“There was perhaps a fear if they didn’t get the right players in, and the right manager, then there could be a difficulty.”
“But in fairness they have not had the issue of being unable to go into the market and spend good money.”
“They’ve had a decent amount of money to work with that has enabled them to get good quality into the building.”
“After that, of course, you have the problem of getting the dynamic and balance right in the dressing room but they seem to have done that, and that’s the impressive thing.”
“I’m sure they’re very happy with how their season has gone because there was talk they would struggle – not a view I shared I have to say – but there is always that worry when you make changes.”
As for Saturday’s game and taking on a Saints side who netted eight times last week, he went on: “It doesn’t matter at what level you play. To beat another team 8-0 is an outstanding performance.”
“We go there with them on an obvious high given the performance and result, but we’re in a confident mood ourselves.”
“We won last time out, so we’d like to think we’ll make a better fist of it. We’ll recognise the talent and ability they have in their squad but we’ve plenty of that ourselves, so they know it will be a difficult game for them.”
“It’s up to us to make sure their win over Sunderland was a one-off performance and result, and is not something that will influence our game.”