What to make of Claude Puel's return to the Premier League?

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 27 October 2017, 09:06

EVEN HOLLYWOOD would struggle with Claude Puel.

Production of ‘Leicester - the movie’ is underway leaving plenty of time for a few extra scenes at the end, possibly depicting the anointing of the stone-faced new leader to oversee the sad demise of a once great fairytale.

From the greatest underdog story ever told it could become a disaster epic, even a horror story and imagine the blurb on the trailer: watch in terror as the whispering death slowly envelopes a once-proud Midlands club.

It could be a hit. The only problem of course is that the golden rule for 99.9 per cent of films is a happy ending and that ain’t gonna happen at Leicester with Puel in charge.

He might win a few more matches than Craig Shakespeare, he will probably keep them in the Premier League. In his one year at Southampton he took them to the League Cup final and an undeserved defeat against Manchester United.

If watching ‘football - the results business’ with a bag of popcorn in the premier seats is your thing then sit back, relax, turn off your mobile phone and enjoy the show.

But there is good reason why Southampton ditched the sleep-inducing Frenchman after only season.

The players couldn’t stand his training, the fans couldn’t bear to watch his ultra-defensive football and nobody at all could hear a word he was saying.

What a sad way to end the two greatest years in the history of Leicester City Football Club.

From arch-entertainer, slightly unhinged Claudio Ranieri to a manager who has had a charisma bypass.

Ranieri with his ‘dilly ding, dilly dong’ alarm bell ringing, the endearing bad-comedy quotes such as ‘I am the sausageman’ and ‘This is not a footballer, it’s a fantastic horse’ in reference to his team.

Compare them to this gem from Puel during his time at Saints: “It is important to stay focused on our last game, now. We can win to take us higher up the table, which is important.”

Wouldn’t you run through walls for this guy? No, thought not.

Of course, football is about winning matches. Nobody can deny that. But it is also about making people want to come back week after week, in good times or bad because they enjoy it.

The trend towards putting short-term gain in points above everything else is that managers like Puel get work.

Footballers run on confidence, they need inspiration. They are young men, pumped up and in their prime but they need someone at the top to reassure them, to crack the whip when needed and to unify them.

It’s fascinating to imagine what all those Leicester fans, and players, who were campaigning to get Ranieri the sack, will make of Puel as he sweeps into the King Power Stadium with all the razzmatazz of a librarian putting overdue books back in the non-fiction section.

From Ranieri to Puel in less than two years, it’s almost a movie in itself.

But rather than hold on to your seats City fans, hold onto a very, very strong cup of coffee, starting on Sunday in the home match against Everton. You’re going to need it to stay awake.

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