Monday 23 September 2019

Puel battles to save his job after clashes with players and staff

Under pressure: Claude Puel. Photo: Getty Images
Under pressure: Claude Puel. Photo: Getty Images

John Percy

Claude Puel is facing the sack as Leicester City manager as he battles growing unrest behind the scenes.

Puel's reign is at crisis point and there are huge concerns over results, performances and his training methods.

Jamie Vardy has become the first Leicester player to go public on the discontent within the squad after admitting his struggles with Puel's style of play, but it is understood there are issues with a number of other players and even staff.

Puel was fighting for his job towards the end of last season after a torrid run of results, but the club's late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha opted to give him the summer to rebuild the squad.

Now the Frenchman is clinging on to his job again and, with the tension so high, games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Cardiff are seen as pivotal.

There has been a reluctance to consider Puel's position after the dignified manner in which he handled the death of Srivaddhanaprabha, yet senior figures now recognise the situation is critical.

One source has claimed Puel has "lost nearly everybody" at the training ground, with the atmosphere said to be flat.

That will spark fresh accusations of 'player power' - Leicester's squad were accused of engineering the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in February 2017.

Many sources have confirmed the problems being experienced at the club under Puel, and the 57-year-old is even alleged to have clashed with members of coaching staff in recent weeks.

There are growing rumours that Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is being targeted as his replacement.

Rodgers is expected to leave Celtic at the end of this season, which raises the prospect of Leicester making an interim appointment - one possibility is former manager Nigel Pearson - for the final five months of this campaign.

The ultimate decision on Puel will be made by Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Vichai's son and the vice-chairman.

With only two victories from the past 10 league games, Puel is under renewed fire after fielding what was perceived as a weakened team for the visit of City in the League Cup quarter-final last Tuesday.

Puel made a number of changes, which included resting Vardy. The under-fire Leicester manager later claimed the striker was "tired" and those comments are thought to have angered Vardy.

Yesterday, when asked in an interview with Sky Sports whether Puel's possession-based style of play suited his own, Vardy replied: "No, but is that down to me to adapt? Yes. The only way I'm going to do that is by working hard on the training field.

"It does get a bit frustrating, but we are transitioning into a different style of play."

Puel's training regime has also been a bone of contention, and there is friction over lengthy sessions the day before games.

Meanwhile, Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has said that he does not know or care what the club pay Mesut Ozil, stressing that the German's bumper £350,000-a-week salary should not guarantee him any kind of preferential treatment.

"I don't know the player's salary because, for me, it is the same - I want to give every player the same conversation or the same decision to play or not to play," said Emery, who boldly dropped Ozil from his matchday squad for the midweek League Cup quarter-final by Tottenham.

"The most important thing for me is the commitment. And when I decide on who plays or not, it is because of a tactical decision - not what they are paid." (© Daily Telegraph, London).

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