Koeman: Champions League unlikely

Saints have enjoyed a remarkable season and still sit sixth in the Premier League but are now six points behind fourth-placed Manchester United and face a tricky trip to Everton on Saturday.

When asked whether his maiden season at the St Mary’s helm could still end in qualification for Europe’s elite club competition, Koeman said: “Realistically the Champions League will be difficult for us because we have the distance to make up in points.

“If we win the next two or three games we’ll be fighting for it, but the??Champions League is more for the big teams.

“We play eight finals now and the season so far has been fantastic. If we??reach Europe, it will mean a special season for the club.”

Looking forward to facing Everton, who have endured a relatively poor campaign under Roberto Martinez, Koeman added: “Everton are a tough test because they deserve to be in a higher position in the table. I like the way they play football and how Roberto Martinez is doing his job.

“They have good overall quality in the squad, but it’s been a difficult season??for them and one of the reasons for that is that they have played in Europe on??Thursdays.

“There’s more risk of injury, you have to travel and the focus is more??difficult after that great season they had last season.

“They won the last two games and are playing with more confidence. It will be??a tough game, but a nice one because we play the same way.

“How we play is about winning, not about controlling and defending. That makes??the game more open than normal.”