Claude Puel, sacked!

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Leicester City decided today to sack Claude Puel after recent bad results, not able to win a single game in the last six played. Puel took charge of Leicester City back in October 2017, and had a relatively turbulent time at King Power Stadium.

Puel took over a team who had been on a rollercoaster ride and flirted with relegation under former manager Craig Shakespeare. Claudio Ranieri had also experienced the same axe from the owners, who are known for being spontaneous and using “the sack” as a strategic weapon to lift the spirit among fans and players.

Claude Puel had a difficult task and had to make a number of difficult choices in his attempt to keep the club in a middle placed Premier League position. A club that out of nowhere goes to the very top and wins the title as Leicester City did back in 15/16, will be in a difficult position and with fans being left with a dream, a hope and not really knowing how they will respond to what comes next, you will find this difficult to handle.

The fact that you cannot win games and that you go on a roll of defeats will always seeing questions asked and the way Claude Puel went about it, you are often thinking, what is he up to now, but as long as he wins or pick up points, people don’t care, you can do what you like.

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Tcf changed his mind on Claude Puel after the Tottenham game. He had already decided to leave out Wes Morgan, juggling with Jamie Vardy and started to irritate Kasper Schmeichel. The trio of Morgan, Vardy and Schmeichel are the main leaders of the dressing room and strong characters.

Puel has not been all bad this season, with some very strong results against Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool. Also playing great football, despite defeats, against Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal, but his results against Cardiff at home, Palace at home and Newport in the FA Cup, were not in his favor at all, all unforgivable.

Leicester City could have gone all the way in the Carabao Cup this season, but the team selection against Man City in the quarter finals, at home, was not really easy to understand and made it difficult, despite getting a penalty shoot out in the end.

The way Claude Puel has tried to change things might have gone a bit too fast and the players brought in are so young that when you start to “get in trouble” during games, you cannot really rely on them, as they are too young to tackle that type of pressure, and that might be the biggest fault.

Leicester City fans were also mixed, but when when Puel decided to axe Jamie Vardy, for no special reason, with Demarai Gray, who has no track record of scoring the goals that Vardy does, you start to think that is this man “mad” or is he a “fool”.

If Gray was in his mid 20’s with a track record of playing alone up front and scoring goals, then you might have been more patient with Puel, but this looked like a “great idea” just “landing in your head” a few hours before kick off.

Gray is a young lad, who needs at least five to six games up front in this position in the Premier League to really get a grip of the idea of this position, a bit like Chilwell was introduced to the first team, something that might have cost a number of points last season, but at this moment looks as a genius act by Puel. You can introduce one, maybe two young players, but just throwing them all in will be a big gamble against top oppositions.

The way Leicester City owners have chopped and changed managers, sold their best players in Kante, Mahrez and Drinkwater, shows lack of strategic thinking, not able to back their current manager. Owners and executives at the club have not been able “to sell the brand” to their current key players, and that is the major fault, not the managers.

The real issue to solve is why the best players are triggered to leave Leicester City as they have been since the early days of the 60’s and 70’s, with even a Premier League title and a possible run in the Champions League not enough to make them stay.

This is were Top and his men must start to solve their problem, and if they cannot solve that, then we just have to wait and see, and hopefully by luck again find a group of players that can bring success to Leicester City FC.

The football affairs is the main focus for a football club and owners must understand that. To see the tycoons just going for “the sack” is showing people working in management what this is really all about, going forward with a type of “warrior” approach.

Professional football is brutal and for new generations of fans, young people who goes to games and are recruited into this world of following football, you have a responsibility to learn how management should be established and how you should work to get good results, when the chips are down, you use “the axe” and the picture of grown men being shown the door is often difficult to understand.

VAR is now introduced in football as we like to get everything correct, coming to owners and football management, certainly “the axe” cannot be the way forward and we should get regulations and probably other more softer reactions as the league system today really should be looked at with the Premier League being build in a way that is not taking the game forward, at least coming to the way football clubs are being managed. It’s ruthless and shows that results are destroying the product in a way that makes it difficult to bring this culture forward in the best way possible.

Everything in football comes from the top, from the ownership, and sometimes, even you can be lucky with a manager who brings forward marvels and can trick everyone as Claudio Ranieri did, but as lightening managed to bring the team, without Kante, into a relegation fight just weeks after being crowned as winners of the Premier League.

Claude Puel is gone, sa are other managers in the life of this football club. First team coach Adam Sadler and goalkeeper coach Mike Stowell are the once to keep team affairs running and will be in charge for the Brighton game on Tuesday.

No new name is lined up, but Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers are two that has been mentioned a lot in the media. None of the two are likely to leave their posts at this moment and would probably not be allowed to talk to, even if they were interested.

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David Moyes and Sam Allardyce are two that currently are available and known for taking interim jobs or being tempted to go into positions like the one vacant at Leicester City at the moment. They both know the trade of football management and knows how to organize a defense, and bring the boat safely into the harbor at the end of the season. They are two not very popular among Leicester City fans and would fast bring a toxic atmosphere if results were not as expected.

There are of course a number of great positives taking over a job at Leicester City, with some great players to coach and at the same time challenges to bring in the right players to get a perfect blend to be part of a climb to something not really said.

We now that owners want to bring the club forward but what is that after winning the Premier League, reached the quarter finals of the Champions League and not really thinking that would happen again. A surreal situation and one difficult work description for a new manager.

What a new manager must bring to the table is a good run in the cups, being a top 10 club in the Premier League and don’t lose against lower placed opposition at home, and really give every opponent coming to the King Power a battering.

At this moment Tcf could of course dream about a manager to replace Claude Puel, but don’t really have a clue about who can take over and bring this club forward, and with the rapid changes of management at Leicester City, it is not really easy to see long term and understand how the club owners are thinking, a difficult task.

The fact that Claude Puel left was a bit of a relief, because you could see that he had started to experiment and “give players a chance”, but then you also give the opponent a chance, and if you forget that, then you will be “sacked”.

 

 

Big Question? Is Puel getting the best out of his most important player?

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Most fans were all in favor of a team playing with more ball possession and few could see a future with only sitting back and counter attack. Ranieri slightly started to change to more possession, Craig Shakespeare reversed it, introduced it again and under Claude Puel the team are no longer a counter attacking team, using the midfield as the ground for building up their attacks with more patience.

You can see from time to time that Iheanacho and Vardy are both getting a run, but more of a coincidence than as part of a plan. Players in the center of midfield at the moment is used to the way Claude Puel would like to play his game and as a romantic approach this style is fine, but as a cynical point chaser, will it work long term.

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The counter attack style was there to see in the “great escape” season, with Nigel Pearson playing a 3-4-3, with great pacy players and really grabbing points. Ranieri just let it flow and with the addition of Okazaki and Kante, this worked as a rocket.

The players in the team were perfect for the way of playing, getting Vardy set up in the best way possible giving him a chance to chase and run, which is his “pre” and what makes him so unique. Okazaki is also a perfect player in that role in between.

Tcf would say that Ranieri made a fool of himself with the signing of Islam Slimani who in no way could replace Okazaki, because they are so different, and that change in the start of the season also introducing Ahmed Musa, made this a terrible nightmare situation.

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Looking in the back mirror you would say that why chance a winning formula and believe that you cannot play the way you did just a few weeks before, and we all remember what happened when Craig Shakespeare just turned back the club and did it all over again a few months later.

Footballers are adaptable, but the set up at the moment is a possession orientated team, and they tend to like to cuddle with the ball, a bit too much. Ndidi is a wonderful winner of the ball and Mendy one doing the short one to one passes, going forward in steps.

But what really happens to Vardy, will he ever again be able to be the player he was and could we have seen the best of Jamie turning the way of playing totally in the opposite direction, despite having as little as 35% of the ball at The Emirates yesterday.

The way of playing football is up to the manager. He picks the team and decides how to play and what type of players he will play with, and of course what he tells his players to do, but again, Vardy in a possession orientated team, with no or little counter attacks, is not what Tcf would describe as ideal.

Puel management discussed, what does the cunning fox say, listening to the local vocal

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The Sun printed a story about owners and their worry of unrest at the training ground, coming from the local vocal, Rob Tanner, the head Leicester City journalist at Mercury, saying this is all strange as owners never talk much to the media

Tanner describes the situation as odd, believing that all that comes from the owners at Leicester City is written in the matchday program and besides that none or very few public announcements are done.

To just fabricate a story about unrest looks odd, and why Tanner just dismiss everything as speculations is a surprise. The reason we just don’t believe this as just a fabricated story is the fact that often such rumors are coming from somewhere and we all know that owners speak to staff and players at times, and that they are surely getting their reports.

Tcf is not involved in the day to day plans of Claude Puel, have no idea of what the owners are thinking or doing and have no relations to any of the players at the club, so this talk is based on what we read between the lines, what we feel is expressed and the talk of Puel himself and his communication.

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The stats and numbers build up around Puel’s performances looks good and his fasit so far is, from last season: 9th in the Premier League, quarter finals in both cups, this season: 10th in the Premier League, still in the EFL Cup and surely not a record for sacking a manager at Leicester City.

The problem for Puel is his home record over the last games, and the end to last season, which was very poor. Goals conceded this term looks totally unnecessary. Puel have a defense far from being a finished article and he looks uncertain about the use of the trio Marc Albrighton, James Maddison and Kelechi Ihenacho, who are switched between positions or left on the bench.

Fans and also local vocal, Rob Tanner, seems to be uncertain about what type of system Leicester City are playing from time to time. To set the record straight, this team is not playing with three defenders in the back and they are still a 4-4-1-1 team, despite being seen as a 4-2-3-1, which it could be, if you like it to be, but that is surely not the case since both flanks are going deeper and not staying up alongside Iheanacho or Maddison in that role behind the top forward. Describing the back four as a back three is also strange, since Amartey and Pereira both looks very much playing to the right, and Chilwell, is a left back and not a left flank, but of course going forward a lot. Morgan or Evans together with Maguire is the two in center, surely a back four. Pereira has been pushed forward and then Mark Albrighton has been moved to the bench.

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All credit to Puel for his awakening of Papy Mendy. The central midfield is working fine. Jamie Vardy has been accompanied by Kelechi Iheanacho or James Maddison in those two roles up front.

See that many websites such as Sky Sports and Soccerway describes Leicester City as playing 4-2-3-1, but that is not the case, they are playing 4-4-1-1, or even 4-4-2 when playing Iheanacho in the team alongside Jamie Vardy. You can argue and discuss this back and forward, but a fact is that when using different type of players you get different kinds of movement, and with Maddison and Iheanacho, it’s like salt and pepper, surely a big difference, but both types needed to balance it right.

Leicester is in transformation, but Puel cannot use Premier League as an arena for experiments and testing, not for long. If he cannot win games, no one will listen to his talk, since football is very simple and fans are going to a game to see their team win, or at least get a draw against a good opponent, losing will always be a dissappointment who ever you play.

If you see a manager after a win, he smiles and looks just like the fan, happy, when losing you get all the complains and explanations about what went wrong and as we all know, winning is everything, you don’t have to explain or complain.

We don’t believe the local vocal, Rob Tanner, in his dismissal of the unrest. We do believe Tanner in his belief that the owners are still backing Claude Puel. Tcf is still in favor of Puel, as Tanner is. As Tanner also says, tired of Leicester City sacking managers. We believe as long as Leicester are in the top half of the table, Puel is fine, so we agree with Tanner in most of his sayings.

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But to say that The Sun have no clue of what the owners might think, is a bit out of line, since why should the national press use space on Leicester City, when there are more and other stories to write about that surely will be of much more interest among football fans and readers in the UK, than using space on a club from a city of no real interest for others than their own people.

The unrest might be entitled to the fact that there are too many players currently on wait to be shipped out, having fantastic contracts at the club that they just would like to see their payments of, and surely no club can give those players the same amount of money as they receive at the moment.

Discipline is also something we would address as a possible reason for the unrest, as we have seen in the past at the club, during the Thai owners reign, with the Pearson affair, Mahrez going on strike and Simpson’s problems in the start of his days at the club. Jamie Vardy also had a difficult time after joining the club, not being able to adapt to the professional lifestyle. As described openly club owners directly dealt with Vardy themselves, and got him on the right track.

Other worries that Puel has been describing himself is the language barrier for newly signed Caglar Soyuncu who has missed his chance to make a first team debut due to the fact that he cannot communicate with other players, not speaking English. That is of course of great worry when used £19 million on a player, who is left out of a team due to not talking a certain language.

Vicente Iborra has said, in an earlier interview, that he had less or no contact with other players besides the training and during games, so surely the mix of the squad, previous episodes and the fact that Puel is himself using an interpreter would surely not be ideal.

The fact that Puel’s decided to replace his closest ally from last season, English speaking assistant manager Michael Appleton, and replacing him with a new French assistant who has not yet given an interview in English, probably also gives you a bit of a challenge in your communication and how you are getting your ideas on board. Reasons enough to see unrest, and adding it all up you might have a picture not ideal for moving a club forward.

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