Claude Puel left Leicester City in February after a bad defeat to Crystal Palace.
He’s since been replaced by Brendan Rodgers and there’s now more optimism around the Foxes. Just like at Southampton, the manager didn’t do a terrible job as far as results are concerned, but, also just like at Southampton, there gradually grew a bad feeling towards him.
That seemed to come from players and supporters alike, and Puel’s style and personality served to irritate both sections. Once players and fans turn, or at least a good percentage of both, there’s no way back for a manager.
Speaking to L’Equipe this week, Puel has been asked how he felt about being sacked by Leicester, and told the French newspaper: “It’s part of the job. When I sign in a club, I invest in a project and I try to bring it to an end. There are sometimes incidents of course or misunderstanding. Or simply, at some point, the results are not good enough. The Premier League is very demanding on the results, the concept of construction does not exist there. I am ambitious and I do not understand my function without the development of a team and players. It needed a minimum of construction. Afterwards, these concepts are shared or not.”
L’Equipe then asked the manager if his will to change things at Leicester had been met with ‘some hostility’ by senior members of the squad, with them naming Vardy, Schmeichel and Morgan, Puel replied: “When I arrived, they had won the title, a year and a half earlier. It was something exceptional, which will remain exceptional. They did it with a high performance style: a low defensive base, a very direct counter game, second balls. But this team soon found themselves in trouble with opponents who had evolved.
“There was a lot of work to be done on group balance and player profiles. It was necessary to integrate more technical elements to perform in placed attacks and the game on the ground. That’s what we did and yes, there was resentment. In Southampton, Leicester, Nice or in Lille, I put myself in difficulty knowingly. I took teams with a style of play that needed to evolve and I’m proud of what I achieved in these clubs.
“When we change, it hurts players who have been there for a long time. But it must be done, I have no regrets. I’m happy with the job done at Leicester. It was an ageing team that needed to be regenerated. Today it is the second youngest team in England with great players for the future.”
Puel is clearly proud of some of the work he carried out at the Premier League club and believes the changes will benefit the Foxes going forward.
When asked if he feels he had enough support from those in charge at Leicester City, the manager explained: “When you take players out of comfort or ask something else, there are tensions. It can affect two or three players, but after I left, I received about fifteen messages from players that I did not expect. I got on very well with players who are now in Espoirs Hopes – how the French refer to the national U21 team), or holders in the England team. And then the results were not bad: after the first half we were seventh in the Premier League.”