It all starts at the back, smiles Ronald Koeman

"Building a house you don`t start up, you start down," explains Ronald Koeman, with the air of a philosopher imparting great wisdom. "That makes winning teams." Recent evidence suggests the art of defence has fallen out of fashion -- look at Manchester United, look at Liverpool -- but clearly nobody bothered to tell the Southampton manager. When Queens Park Rangers visit St Mary`s on Saturday, once again the hosts` hopes will rest on Koeman`s imposing barricade at the back.

Reuters| Updated: Sep 26, 2014, 13:55 PM IST
It all starts at the back, smiles Ronald Koeman

Southampton, England: "Building a house you don`t start up, you start down," explains Ronald Koeman, with the air of a philosopher imparting great wisdom. "That makes winning teams."

Recent evidence suggests the art of defence has fallen out of fashion -- look at Manchester United, look at Liverpool -- but clearly nobody bothered to tell the Southampton manager.

When Queens Park Rangers visit St Mary`s on Saturday, once again the hosts` hopes will rest on Koeman`s imposing barricade at the back.

Always with one eye on his beloved back four, as Premier League rivals hurled tens of millions of pounds at big-name strikers in the close season, Koeman can now perhaps allow himself an early smile of satisfaction.

He brought in Belgian international defender Toby Alderweireld on loan from Atletico Madrid, signed full back Ryan Bertrand on loan from Chelsea, snapped up centre back Florin Gardos from Steaua Bucharest and bought England goalkeeper Fraser Forster from Celtic.

It should perhaps be no surprise where Koeman`s priorities lie, given his glittering days as centre back for the Dutch national side, Ajax and Barcelona, but what has come as a surprise is Southampton`s early form.

After five matches, the modest south coast club sit second in the league. And no top flight team has conceded fewer than the three goals Forster has let by him.

But Koeman`s team is no one trick pony -- only league leaders Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton have scored more than the nine goals they have slotted home.

"To win points, to win games, that starts in defence," Koeman told reporters on Thursday, warming to his theme.

"That is the reason we bought Fraser, because he`s a fantastic goalkeeper with a future in the club.

"We have a strong defence, it is all about organisation in the team," he added.

While compatriot Louis van Gaal struggles at Manchester United, and Brendan Rodgers wrestles with Liverpool`s leaky back four, Koeman pointed to a man who shares his philosophy, with considerable success.

"Jose Mourinho has shown that for a long time," he said of the power of the defence. "That`s a big compliment for him."

Having lost a sizeable chunk of the Southampton first team to richer clubs in the off-season, Koeman spent well.

"We brought in (Sadio) Mane, (Dusan) Tadic and (Graziano) Pelle, important (attacking) players, but we also brought in two centre-backs because we need competition in those positions," he said.

"I look to my team, and that`s my experience, that is how I manage my team."

Koeman cannot help himself but to smile broadly when he mentions right back Nathaniel Clyne.

"In my opinion Clyne is one of the best right backs I`ve had in my teams over the last 15 years," he said.

"That means a lot. I like to play with offensive full backs and he has those qualities. He`s fast, he gives good crosses."

Koeman gives the impression he is indeed happy with his team, from the back right to the front, and well might he be considering their sparkling start to the season.

"I am not a miracle worker," he said. "I have good players. I can do miracles with good players... but then it is not a miracle."