Most Leicester fans were underwhelmed by Claude Puel's appointment as Leicester City manager but Ben McAleer has found the positives for the Foxes faithful to focus on...
"His (Puel) style of play was just a little bit dull at times and it was pretty boring to watch."
Former Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier pulled no punches when discussing Claude Puel as Leicester closed in the appointment of the Frenchman. On Wednesday night, the Foxes confirmed Puel's hiring as Craig Shakespeare's permanent successor, with the 56-year-old back in management following his dismissal as Saints boss earlier in the year.
Top-half finish and cup final show what Claude can do
Some may be sceptical over his return to the game, but he still guided the south coast side to an eighth-placed finish and a cup final, that in itself they were unlucky to lose. Delving deeper, Puel's Saints side indeed scored the joint-second fewest home goals (17) in the Premier League last season, while they also boasted the worst conversion rate (7.4%) in England's top tier during his solitary season at St. Mary's.
Of course, their goal woes weren't for want of trying, with Saints averaging 10.4 key passes per game last season. A conversion rate of 5.8% - only Crystal Palace (0.9%) have worse - and six home goals scored under Mauricio Pellegrino suggests a wider issue for Saints. In Puel, Leicester now have a tactically astute manager that has the means to successfully guide the Foxes away from danger.
Foxes' pace offers route out of trouble
Leicester currently sit just one point above the relegation zone after a 2-1 win at Swansea last week and with the players available, the Foxes should be performing better than they currently are. However, the difference now between the personnel at Puel's disposal at Saints compared to Leicester is the injection of pace in all the right areas. On their day, the Foxes have the capacity to blow teams away, with their players tailor-made to hit opponents on the counter attack.
Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton, to name three, are all capable of turning on the afterburners as and when required and it's this speed in the right positions that comes as a huge boost to Puel. At Saints, he was largely devoid of those to help stretch defences, which only improved once Manolo Gabbiadini arrived in January. However, the Italian's injury sustained in March derailed his impact and Saints never fully recovered from the blow.
Leicester will now find a manager who is somewhat the polar opposite of Shakespeare, with the latter's tactical shortcomings quickly rising to the fore and resulting in his sacking earlier in the month. Puel, though, meticulously studies opponents and builds his sides around their strengths, which is vital for a Leicester side that has kept just two clean sheets in nine attempts his term. He was often criticised for setting his side up to remain compact, with Saints fans demanding aesthetically pleasing football rather than the safer, defensively resolute approach that Puel implemented.
This style benefits Leicester, however, with the Foxes requiring a sterner spine to help repel attacks and move up the table. Fourteen goals conceded may not be the worst return, but leaves room for improvement and Puel will undoubtedly strengthen the side at the back. With Adrien Silva edging closer to availability following Leicester's botched attempts to register the Portugal international in time, the Foxes' squad will only improve and Puel could well be the ideal appointment to manage the side away from danger.
Toffees first up for Puel's Foxes
His first port of call is to oversee Leicester's welcome of Everton on Sunday and with the Toffees on a 12-match winless away run, the Foxes are good value at 2.20 to defeat their fellow Premier League strugglers. With Everton scoring only two goals away from home in England's top-tier this term, and considering Puel's planning and attention to detail, Leicester to win without conceding is a tempting 3.60. A winning start to life would kickstart an upturn in form and the Foxes to secure a top-10 finish is a viable possibility at [2.25].
He may have been the subject of ire from Saints fans, who struggled to warm to his managerial approach, but Puel could well prove to be a perfect fit for a Leicester side that seems to match his style provided the players quickly buy into his ideologies.