The amount of disdain and disappointment surrounding Leicester City’s appointment of former Southampton manager Claude Puel is frankly baffling.
Hyperbolic criticism about the Frenchman’s playing style at Southampton have now become a buzzword for unhappy fans, who were likely swept away by the names Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini, which were banded around in the press in the buildup to this appointment.
Claude Puel is not only a brilliant football manager, he is also perfect for Leicester City.
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While it is true that his Southampton team scored fewer goals than any other team in the top half, his side were also the best defense not to qualify for Europe.
His ability as a squad builder will come in handy, as he will likely be given the time and budget to mould a squad in his image to a greater extent than at his previous club.
His Southampton team also qualified for the final of the EFL Cup, a competition that Leicester are still currently in and would benefit massively on a psychological level.
Of course, this is even before considering how Puel serves as a stylistic fit for Leicester.
Transitioning from a defensive system like that of Craig Shakespeare to a pressing or possession based system would require a long period of adaptation, something that Leicester can ill afford as they are only a single point above the relegation zone.
The French coach will bring in immediate stability to their defense, and their adaptation period will be cut massively short as a similar system has been drilled into them under the stewardship of Claudio Ranieri and Craig Shakespeare.
Lastly, Leicester’s biggest error in the past few years has been their inability to transition from being a defensive side into one that takes a more sustainable, possession based approach to the game.
Ranieri’s attempts to do so were ultimately met with a dismissal, and Craig Shakespeare was reluctant to try something similar.
Puel is the perfect manager to provide a smooth transition from their current style into one more befitting of a top-half Premier League team.
Players like Vicente Iborra, Harry Maguire, and the soon-to-arrive Adrien Silva, make this kind of game possible for Puel, offering a blend of defensive stability and creative promise that makes this kind of transition possible.
Even if we accept that Claude Puel’s style of football is even close to as defensive or conservative as that played by some of Leicester’s relegation rivals, which it clearly isn’t, it is unfair to heap this level of criticism on the French coach.
It is frankly hypocritical that sides that are in more enviable positions to Leicester are given a pass to play conservative and pragmatic football, while the Foxes’ coaches and owners are subjected to this level criticism.
Surely a manager that places security first is ideal for Leicester, a club that has flirted with relegation in two of the three full seasons they have been in the top flight.
People who were expecting Carlo Ancelotti or Roberto Mancini to rock up to the King Power stadium were always going to be disappointed, and it is an absolute travesty to project that disappointment upon a clearly talented manager who is an ideal appointment to handle Leicester’s specific situation.