The Premier League’s two Dutch managers will meet again on Sunday as van Gaal’s Manchester United entertain Koeman’s Southampton in this weekends most intriguing fixture.

  • By Andy Booth
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koevangnjddjdFollowing a co-operative spell together at Barcelona between 1998 and 2000, van Gaal and Koeman were reunited at Ajax in 2004. Despite having won the Eredivisie the previous season, van Gaal was brought back to Ajax to succeed Leo Beenhakker as Technical Director with the responsibility of assisting with incoming and outgoing transfers. However his presence did anything but steady the ship.

Repeated attendances at training sessions and tactical ‘advise’ (such as instructing star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to attack the near post more) were seen as undermining Koeman’s authority and left the young manager seething.

The deadline day sale of Ibrahimovic to Juventus for just €16million was the straw that broke the camels back. Ajax had sold their best player and not been left enough time to find a replacement. Koeman did not hold back with his complaints to the board and van Gaal resigned less than two months later.

The pair have never fully patched up there differences and Koeman has been characteristically honest in saying they will be civil but ‘will never be friends’.

After the match in December they did agree on one thing though, Koeman’s Southampton were extremely unlucky not to win the match. The Saint’s registered 15 shots to Man United’s 3 but it was Robin van Persie’s double which secured the 3 points for the visitors. Van Gaal’s acceptance that Koeman’s men deserved more from the game was somewhat of a disappointment to the English press but showed some degree of respect towards his former apprentice.

Both sides go into the match in good form. Southampton have won 3 and drawn 1 (against Chelsea) of their last 4 league games whereas Man United are unbeaten in their last 10.

Consequently, Koeman has stressed the pressure is very much on Man United despite there being only one place and one point between the sides. He added, ‘how can you spend that money [around £150million] and not be fighting to win titles?’.

One of the summer recruits, Dutchman Daley Blind, could return from injury and make the match day squad for the home team. Whilst new signing from Werder Bremen, Eljero Elia, is likely to feature for the Saints.

Sunday’s match at Old Trafford does not promise fireworks on the touchline but the three points will certainly be extra sweet for the winning coach.

Andy Booth (27 Posts)