RONALD Koeman has revealed that he is in the "perfect situation" as a manager.
He believes his Saints squad is at its strongest since he took over at St Mary's – and most capable of springing a surprise on opponents.
Saints go to Swansea tomorrow having gone unbeaten in five games without conceding a goal and with the chase for European football very much back on.
The boss, who has chopped and changed formations and personnel across that hot streak, believes that his seventh-placed side are at their strongest point since he took the job in June 2014.
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Koeman reckons it gives Saints an edge of unpredictability on Francesco Guidolin’s struggling side, but also gives him a selection headache, with a very competitive squad. Even with Victor Wanyama suspended for five games.
“At the moment, this is the strongest squad from the beginning when I came to Southampton because we have really strong competition between the players,” he said.
“It’s not easy to make every week the best line up, but that’s what you want. You need that competition.
“Still, we have some players out with injuries, but at the moment we have 22 really good players and that’s important to have to finish strong. That’s how we like to finish the season.”
He added: “It’s for the manager a perfect situation, but not always for the players.
“You have players that are unhappy but I think that’s the Premier League. That’s the level that you need. You need a strong squad. You need competition.
“That’s all about to have the respect to the rest of the players if you don’t start.”
Koeman has been known to operate with a 4-2-3-1 formation, but has used a 3-4-3 very effectively in victories over Watford, West Brom, Manchester United and West Ham.
He feels he is in a place with enough quantity and quality in the team to be able to spring a surprise on unsuspecting opposition.
“That’s all about the players because if have that kind of players you can play different systems. That’s good because that’s difficult for opponents. You don’t know you can expect [from us],” he said.
“And it’s good for us because we know both systems to play out and that’s good.
“We have different types of strikers. We have different types of midfield players. We can play with three at the back , we can play with four at the back.”
He continued: “Last season, maybe it was easy to take the best eleven of, even to take the best 18 players in the squad.
“We had a lot of young under 20 players making his debut for the first-team, but now it’s all about the players what we have in the first-team selection and they give really good competition.
“What you like if when someone get a good opportunity to play that he shows his quality and that’s what you like as a manager.”