Leicester turn to fallen Saint Claude Puel

Claude Puel was last night confirmed as Leicester’s new first-team manager.

Leicester turn to fallen Saint Claude Puel

Just 133 days after being sacked by Southampton, the 56-year-old Frenchman is back in a Premier League hotseat.

Puel has been confirmed as Craig Shakespeare’s successor at Leicester, penning a deal at the King Power Stadium until June 2020.

The former defensive midfielder’s first match at the Foxes helm will be Sunday’s home game against Everton, while the club has confirmed Michael Appleton will retain his role as assistant manager.

“It’s a great privilege to become the new manager of Leicester City, a club whose values and ambitions are closely aligned to my own,” said Puel.

“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.”

Puel moved into management with Monaco — the only club he represented as a player — in 1999 and won the Ligue 1 crown the following year.

Spells with Lille, Lyon and Nice followed before the 56-year-old replaced Ronald Koeman as Saints boss in 2016.

Despite leading the club to the EFL Cup final and eighth in the Premier League, frustrations behind the scenes and in the stands led to the end of Puel’s Southampton reign in June.

However, Leicester were attracted rather than put off by his one-season stint at St Mary’s, with vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha suitably impressed.

“When we began the process of identifying a new manager, the board quickly established the profile of candidate we needed to take the club forward and Claude Puel was a perfect fit,” said Srivaddhanaprabha.

“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 and I am delighted we will have the opportunity to reinforce our long-term vision, aided significantly by his expertise.”

Former Leicester defender Gerry Taggart gave Puel the thumbs-up, despite some Foxes fans — including former striker Gary Lineker — being underwhelmed by the appointment on social media.

The 47-year-old told Sky Sports News: “When you get a team like Lyon to the Champions League semi-finals you know your business in terms of setting teams up and playing the game.

“You have to look at his record and the owners’ record in appointing managers. He may not be a sexy fit, but he’s a bit pragmatic and that may suit Leicester, who in the past are a counter-attacking team.

“Puel likes to play his football. He didn’t do anything wrong at Southampton, he left them in a better place than they are now. Just give him a little bit of time.

“I think the key is if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Claudio Ranieri made a rod for his own back and tried to change too much and you saw the result of that when Craig Shakespeare took over and they won five on the bounce in the Premier League.”

Taggart, a Northern Ireland international who played for Leicester between 1998 and 2004, continued: “At the minute, they’re looking over their shoulder, not up, but the last two results under Michael Appleton will give the players great confidence.

“The football they played in those two games was exceptional.”

Appleton returns to an assistant role after two wins while in caretaker charge.

“It’s difficult to say I haven’t enjoyed it [being a manager again], when you’ve had two wins, but that wasn’t the role that I came here to Leicester to do,” said Appleton after Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Leeds.

“It’s a role I’m comfortable with, but I came here as assistant manager and I’d be absolutely delighted if Craig was still sat here and we’d beaten Swansea and got through to the last eight [of the cup].”

Goals from Kelechi Iheanacho, his first for the club, Islam Slimani and substitute Riyad Mahrez saw Leicester come from behind to beat Leeds, who went in front through Pablo Hernandez’s strike.

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