Ronald Koeman surprised by Southampton start

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport at St Mary's Stadium
Koeman delighted with Saints form

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman says he has been surprised by his side's impressive start to the season.

Despite losing several key players in the summer, Saints have made their greatest Premier League start and best in the top flight for 31 years.

They earned a fourth successive league win by beating Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at St Mary's on Saturday to remain second in the table.

When asked if he had been surprised by the start, Koeman replied: "A little."

The Dutchman, who took over at Southampton in the summer, told BBC Sport: "You always have to wait after a lot of changes in the team.

"But we had a good pre-season, we had some difficult moments in the club, a lot of people, even the press was a little bit afraid, with questions about relegation.

Manager Ronald Koeman (R) of Southampton celebrates their victory with assitant manager Erwin Koeman
Ronald Koeman has guided his team to second place in his first Premier League season

"But we know what our qualities are, and little by little we have shown them. I'm satisfied with how we're playing. Now we can watch the table tonight and take a picture."

Southampton lost manager Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham in May - with Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers all leaving on the playing side.

But since losing their opening Premier League fixture 2-1 at Liverpool on 17 August, Koeman's side have gone seven games unbeaten - and Saturday's win was their sixth successive victory in all competitions.

Graziano Pelle's acrobatic volley sealed victory for Saints in what has been a fine week, following Tuesday's League Cup victory at Arsenal.

Koeman paid tribute to the Italian striker, who has scored four goals in as many Premier League games.

"It was a great finish, it will be one of the best goals of the season," he added.

"It was more important as it made it 2-1. I'm happy about his performance from the start of the season, because he has shown his quality and personality. He will always keep the ball for the team."

Saints stats
Since August 2012, Graziano Pelle has scored 54 goals in 63 league appearances for Feyenoord and SouthamptonSouthampton's total of 13 points from six games is their best in the top-flight since claiming 14 in 1983-84

Koeman has challenged his players to maintain the standard they have set this season.

"Football is about enjoyment and the way I believe in playing will bring points," he said.

"The way we played against Liverpool was important as it showed we can play at a high level," he said. "Now we have to work hard every day to stay at that."