Welcome to the hot seat, Mr. Puel: Will the gaffer be sacked by Leicester City?

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: Claude Puel, Manager of Leicester City (L) and his backroom staff watch on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Leicester City at Selhurst Park on April 28, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: Claude Puel, Manager of Leicester City (L) and his backroom staff watch on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Leicester City at Selhurst Park on April 28, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

A shockingly poor afternoon at Selhurst Park left the Leicester City fans stunned.

Crystal Palace, a team that has been a relegation scrap since the beginning of the season, outclassed Leicester. A 5-0 annihilation of the Foxes keeps the Eagles in the top flight for another year. This devastating defeat for Leicester, however, fuels the speculative flames of a Claude Puel sacking. Welcolme to the hot seat, Mr. Puel.

The lowest point of the season for Leicester City

Puel followed his same script of choosing youth and changing player positions for his starting squad. Hamza Choudhury was picked over veteran Adrien Silva, Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray continued being regular starters, and Marc Albrighton once again started at right back ahead of Danny Simpson instead of his natural position at right-wing. Unfortunately, none of these players are proud of how they performed.

The lackustre first halves of Choudhury and Iheanacho had Puel bring on both Silva and Fousseni Diabate in for the young Foxes. Gray played all 90 minutes, but his quality was lacking. The most notable moment of the match came from Marc Albrighton. A controversial challenge against Wilfred Zaha at the 56th minute saw a red card for the Englishman, ending his day.

Puel’s selection of players and the positions they play at has been under scrutiny lately; however, after this embarrassing display, no one can defend Puel’s judgement for selecting a squad.

Losing the statistical game

A constant frustration of the recent Leicester form is how statistically Leicester should be dominating these games. Since the beginning of February the Foxes usually control the ball for about 57%-60% of the game. Among that, Leicester have out shot, passed, touched, and earned more corners than their opponents. This is vintage Puel offense. Slow down the game, keep possession, and be the more mature squad. However, Puel and his offense were outmatched, as they lost the statistical game.

With the exception of possession, Crystal Palace dominated the game offensively, beating the Foxes in all major offensive categories.

  Statistic                                Leicester                       Crystal Palace

Possession                             50.1%                                    49.9%

Shots (on target)                   6 (1)                                       15 (9)

Touches                                   563                                        580

Passes                                     389                                        403

Corners                                     2                                             8

No doubt the recent form of Leicester has been irritating. However, the one positive was that the Foxes statistically have always controlled the game. When that is not the case, Puel has failed. Due to this failure, Puel now is at risk of being the third Foxes manager to be sacked in 14 months.

A growing discontent

It should come to no surprise that Claude Puel is on the hot seat. After taking the job as manager, Puel had a fantastic start to his Leicester career. He led the Foxes to five wins in eight league games, including a 4-1 victory against his former club Southampton. However, since that game against the Saints, the Foxes have only won four times in 18 Premier League matches.

Related Story: Leicester City players are behind Claude Puel, insists Jamie Vardy

Winning is not the only thing that is lacking for a Puel-led Leicester City. Since becoming Leicester’s manager in October, the Frenchman has only played the same squad twice. This persistent trial and error style of management causes both chemistry problems on and off the pitch. Due to his constant tinkering, rumors of player upheaval have surfaced.

A player coup d’état?

As reported by The Guardian, players recently have become unimpressed with Puel. The lack of winning combined with constant squad changes and experimentation has led to discontent within Leicester City. Furthermore, Puel has not explained his thinking behind his decisions, leaving Leicester players feeling frustrated and confused.

Reports of player unrest have been shot down by the likes of Jamie Vardy. The English international told SkySports that any reports of player discontent with Puel has, “…no truth whatsoever”. Vardy continues by praising his manager for his communication skills and what Puel expects of his players.

"“You can tell he is thoughtful about his football but behind the scenes on the training field he is telling you exactly what he wants you to be doing, what we should be doing and every so often he gets involved as well with a few saucy challenges”."

Words are one thing but action is another. Vardy and his fellow Foxes have said the right things about their manager. However, a terrible second-half performance against Crystal Palace shows that the players may have given up on Puel.

Playing for Puel’s safety

Leicester’s season is effectively over. While being safe from relegation but also having Europa League qualification out of reach, Leicester have nothing but pride to play for. However, Claude Puel should think otherwise.

The remaining three games against West Ham United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will decide if Puel will keep his job as manager. If three disappointing results are to follow this disastrous game against Crystal Palace, it would be safe to say Puel will be sacked.

However, if the Foxes can flip their form and become the team Puel dreams them to be, then the Leicester Board may keep the Frenchman. Nonetheless, Srivaddhanaprabha and the Board have a critical choice to make.

Srivaddhanaprabha’s vital decision

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the Leicester City board are willing to spend when the summer transfer window is open. The club, according to Business Insider, has become the 14th richest club in the world. Money is not a problem. However, the Leicester Board will be incredibly careful on who they allow to spend their profits.

If they keep Puel, that ultimately means the Frenchman will decide Leicester’s future in one of the most important times in the club’s history. If not, they start fresh, but with their fourth manager in under two years.

The crossroads of a club

Leicester City are at a crossroads. Players like WesMorgan, Christians Fuchs and Danny Simpson from the Premier League winning side are getting older and Riyad Mahrez, more likely than not, will be sold this summer. The team is relying more and more on new players to win games. Leicester is entering a new era in its history.

If done correctly, it is not far-fetched to believe the Foxes will become a constant top half club that can play in the Europa League. However, the question is simple: Will Puel be the man to lead the new look side?

Claude Puel has proven that he can win with Leicester City. He even has the right mantra of being a manager who cares about youth development and changing offensive tactics for the better. However, if something is broke, you have to fix.

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Leicester City had one of the easiest schedules over the past 10 matches in the Premier League. Europa League seemed certain, yet Puel failed.

Claude Puel is a fine manager and he should be hired by a club. But the new, high expectations of Leicester City maybe are too much for Puel. Come season’s end, it seems it is time to move on from the Frenchman.