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Netherlands eyeing Southampton boss Koeman to replace Hiddink

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman is attracting the attention of the Netherlands national team, following a poor start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign under Guus Hiddink. Despite this, they are still odds-on at 8/13 to win Group A, though a dramatic improvement is needed.

Every manager has their own methods, though to contradict the saying ‘if it aint’ broke, don’t fix it’, Hiddink has tinkered. Having trained and played with three centre halves for two years, the former Chelsea caretaker immediately switched to a back four. As a result, they have lost two out of three matches, and trail joint-top Iceland and Czech Republic by six points.

By contrast ex-boss and new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, briefly kept on with three at the back for the Red Devils, before realising he needed to switch back to a system that team knows, using two defenders in the middle of a flat back four.

However, it is Koeman who is said to have been identified by the Dutch FA (KNVB) to take over if Hiddink is dismissed, and former Netherlands midfielder Ronald de Boer has his own strong views on the subject.

“Koeman was ready to take over, he was really outspoken and really wanted to take the job,” said De Boer. “With all due respect for Hiddink, he’s 67 years old. He’s done, in my eyes.

“Hiddink has a great record, but his ideas now are old-fashioned. Koeman showed with Feyenoord he can really shape a team and also he knows the mentality of those young boys. Guus is more of a people manager with an arm around them. But those guys need some guidance.”

As perhaps to prove the former midfielder’s point, Koeman has worked wonders with Southampton since he arrived, seeing the talented young team of predecessor Mauricio Pochettino largely dismantled, then putting it back together again, blending it nicely with a balance of youth, experience and quality. The progression of Nathaniel Clyne this season under his stewardship is a prime example of the great work Koeman is doing, with the Saints currently third in the Premier League, and 7/2 for a top six finish.

Dutch FA high-up Bert van Oostveen has sad the organisation will hold talks over Hiddink’s future. “We will ­evaluate,” he said. “Faster than normal and sharper than normal. We will now have to play seven finals.”