Leicester City have announced the former Southampton head coach Claude Puel as manager at the King Power Stadium following last week’s dismissal of Craig Shakespeare. The club’s vice-chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, described Puel as “a perfect fit”.
Leicester interviewed several candidates for the position that has been held on a temporary basis by Michael Appleton for the past two matches and the Frenchman made a positive enough impression to be invited back for further discussions. Puel will be introduced to the media on Friday and will take charge of Sunday’s home match against Everton, who are without a full-time manager.
Puel was let go by Southampton in June despite leading the club to an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League and the final of the Capital One Cup. Southampton flopped in the Europa League and decent domestic results were not deemed good enough to compensate for a style of play that many supporters decried as too defensive, and several players disliked his rotation policy. Puel told French media he was let go “for a little bit more than sporting reasons”.
Srivaddhanaprabha told Leicester’s website: “Upon meeting Claude, his attention to detail, knowledge of our squad, understanding of our potential and his vision to help us realise it were extremely impressive. He quickly emerged as the outstanding candidate.”
Puel said: “The opportunity to help the club build on its remarkable recent achievements is a truly exciting one and I’m looking forward to working with the owners, players, staff and supporters to deliver further lasting success.”
The Leicester squad will find Puel a different character to Shakespeare, with whom many players formed a warm relationship during his many years as an assistant before his promotion in the wake of Claudio Ranieiri’s shock sacking in February. Puel’s record suggests he will bring the tactical savviness that Shakespeare was accused of lacking this season.
The 56-year-old has a French title among his managerial achievements, having won Ligue 1 in 2001 with Monaco, the club at which he had spent his entire playing career. He is perhaps reputed more as a builder of medium-sized clubs and a cultivator of young talents thanks to the six-year spell in charge of Lille, who regularly qualified for Europe by finishing above clubs with more resources. He was voted the manager of the year in France in 2005 for leading Lille to a second-place finish in Ligue 1 behind Lyon.
He was appointed as the Lyon manager in 2008 and, despite leading the club to the semi-finals of the 2010 Champions League, his reign ended unhappily in 2011 amid criticism of his man-management and a dreary playing style. He refurbished his image at Nice by transforming a struggling side with young players and a thrilling attacking style before leaving in 2016 and taking over at Southampton.