It’s February. Leicester City have played 25 Premier League games, and their fans are once again calling for the sacking of their manager. Leicester are 11th in the Premier League, ten points above the relegation zone and eighteen points from the first Champions League position. Leicester has one win, one draw and three losses in their last five Premier League fixtures. The East Midlands club last won on January 1, but despite their victory drought, they must keep faith in their manager.
Claude Puel has an illustrious resume, and lists a Ligue 1 title as a manager and two Ligue 1 titles as a player among his achievements. Puel has had successful stints as manager of Monaco, Lille, Lyon, and Nice. The 57-year-old Frenchman even guided Southampton to the League Cup Final, and an excellent 8th place Premier League finish in his first and only season there. Southampton has flirted with relegation ever since Puel was discharged from his duties in 2017, proof perhaps of his managerial talent. Besides results alone, Puel is known to be good with young players. A youthful Eden Hazard profited from his skills while at Lille.
Far from sacking Puel, Leicester should publicly back their man. Despite poor results of late, Puel recruited well in January and has built a solid team that will only improve with Youri Tielemans joining the side. Leicester are a strong team and have never looked in danger of being relegated under Puel. Of course, Puel’s Leicester has never threatened to break into European football either, but mid-table security should be enough for a club like Leicester. I know full well that Leicester fans expect more because they won the Premier League in the 2016/17 season, but that triumph was named a miracle for a reason. Besides, immediately following their title-winning season, Leicester slid down the league and looked dangerously close to relegation under both Claudio Ranieri and Craig Shakespeare, but Claude Puel expertly addressed the slide.
Showing loyalty to any manager is a positive thing, but keeping faith in Claude Puel could be a masterstroke for Leicester. During his time at the King Power Stadium, Puel has developed players like Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell and Demarai Gray into Premier League stars; and Chilwell and Maguire have enjoyed appearances for the English national team. Who knows what wonders the Frenchman could do with Leicester’s youngsters if he is given more time?
In the 2017/18 season, Leicester finished in 9th place, fourteen points above the relegation zone and eighteen points from the Champions League places. Burnley was one team that finished above Leicester, but they are fighting hard against relegation this term. Would Leicester fans prefer to yo-yo between Europa League slots and relegation places, or to stay steady and consistent in mid-table?
Puel’s style may not be the most beautiful or exhilarating, but it is wonderfully consistent. Puel will always guarantee a mid-table finish at worst, and he will bring serious financial stability to whatever club where he is the manager. Leicester fans may want or even expect better than a mid-table finish, but in the grand scheme of things, such a finish year-in year-out would surely be brilliant for everyone and anyone concerned with Leicester.