Back in the summer of 2017, Premier League outfit Southampton confirmed that they had parted company with manager Claude Puel.
The Frenchman was appointed as Ronald Koeman’s successor at St Mary’s just 12 months earlier following the Dutchman’s move to fellow top-flight side Everton, this all after leading the Saints to back-to-back top ten finishes in the English top tier.
Yet it was up to former Lille and Nice manager Puel to build upon Koeman’s fine work on the South Coast, only for the club to relieve him of his duties after just a year in charge, a move which stimulated quite a positive reaction from these Southampton fans on Twitter…
— Jay (@ffsjxy) June 14, 2017
You’ve taken your time!! Thanks Claude, it was a tough act to follow the last 2 managers. Now let’s get the team playing good footy again!
— Keith B (@saintbiffa) June 14, 2017
— Norwegian Saint (@NorwegianSaint) June 14, 2017
well done lads you’ve me very happy
— TS (@ts_ts89) June 14, 2017
Thank God for that – dullest team I had the misfortune to watch this season. Like a French Tony Pulis.
— Paul Carrick (@cazacarrick) June 14, 2017
It is sad but it was needed. Something wrong with the brand of football we were playing and it had to change. Thanks Claude I wish you well.
— Stuart Hack (@HackStuart) June 14, 2017
Au Revoir Puel.
Thanks for 8th, a League Cup Final and 4 cleans sheets against Liverpool
— James Morgan (@JamesMorgan92) June 14, 2017
Finally! Thank you.
— Andy White (@white) June 14, 2017
And it appears that the huge decision made by the club’s hierarchy to sack Puel, despite the success they had in the 2016/17 campaign, is coming back to bite the Saints given their struggles ever since the Frenchman left St Mary’s.
Ultimately, it was always going to be a tough job for Puel to come in after Dutchman Koeman, who helped the club finish seventh in his first season before leading them to a sixth place finish in the 2015/16 campaign – thus, they had earned a place in the Europa League.
Add in the big money sales of Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle, and Victor Wanyama, and Puel wasn’t dealt a particularly great hand to begin with at St Mary’s – which makes what they went on to achieve that season even more impressive.
Puel eventually led Southampton to another top half finish in ending up eighth in the Premier League table, which while was a drop from the previous season represented another very solid campaign from the South Coast outfit.
And the Frenchman also led the club to a major cup final for the first time since 2003 in reaching the EFL Cup showpiece, a game they were desperately unfortunate to lose 3-2 to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United – on another day, the Saints could have had their first piece of major silverware since winning the FA Cup back in 1976.
Yes, the Europa League campaign was disappointing in bowing out at the group stages, but on the whole Puel led the Saints to another very impressive season in the Premier League – what Southampton fans would take for another eighth place finish right now.
But the problem was the negative style of play implemented by the 57-year-old for much of his time at St Mary’s – after all, they scored just 41 goals in their 38 league games that season, and failed to score in any of their last five home games of the campaign.
And that is something that Leicester City fans have also expressed displeasure with since Puel took over at the King Power Stadium back in October last year – there’s no doubting that it wasn’t great viewing for Saints fans when the Frenchman was in charge.
However, it’s not as if things have been much better since Puel’s departure under a combination of Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes, the former who was clearly out of his depth in the Premier League, and the latter who simply hasn’t been able to get the best out of the squad so far this term – it’s arguable that neither have played better football than what Puel did.
So while Saints fans raved about the club’s huge decision to get rid of Puel, it’s a decision which, becoming clearer by the day, is coming back to bite Southampton, as they may not be in this mess were the Frenchman still in charge at St Mary’s.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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