Records are made to be broken. So, when Crystal Palace set a new low of playing just five games before sacking their manager Frank de Boer, a marker was laid down in the annals of shamefully short footballing stints. Naturally, Leicester City – a club renowned for grabbing the headlines – today feel obliged to take things one step further.
They could be sacking Claude Puel after just three games this season.
Rumours already abound about the likes of Thierry Henry and Roberto Martinez replacing the Frenchman to lead the Foxes for the new campaign. Foxes fans would, on the whole, breathe a collective sigh of relief at his departure in one of football’s strangest mutinies.
For a club who’ve previously contended with the reigns of Nigel Pearson, Craig Shakespeare and Ian Holloway, having Puel lead the side is relative managerial class.
The fella took over in October last year and guided them to a not unimpressive 9th placed finish. Of course, as we all know, Leicester won the league just two seasons before, but that’s no excuse to clamber onto the highest of all horses so eagerly.
Finishing in the top ten is still a respectable result for a club more acclimatised to languishing in England’s second tier and Puel faced the uphill battle of hauling City from their meagre 18th place standing upon his appointment into the top half.
Further, Leicester enjoyed wins over Spurs and Arsenal as well as taking points from Manchester City, United and Chelsea on top of reaching the quarter-finals for both the FA and League Cup. What astronomical delusions of grandeur does a fan have to experience to knock that as an unsuccessful season?
Their loss to United on Friday did little to help Puel’s case but it was far from catastrophic. A dire pre-season would perhaps explain the tightening of Leicester’s trigger finger around the gun gripped for the Frenchman this week but even that can’t be blamed, as they lost just one game from five.
Practically speaking, there are major downsides to sacking the 56-year-old now, too. Aside from the completely unjustified removal being offensive and lacking gratitude from a club who – let’s be honest – will struggle to find much better, losing a gaffer now is sheer lunacy for the timing of it all.
Had Leicester lost Puel back in May when most thought he’d to walk, his replacement would have had the entire summer to shore up the squad to their suiting and implement their own style of play before the new season kicked off. Now, should Puel go, the gaffer collecting the baton would have to wait until January to bring his own players in and would suffer from lacking the time every other coach enjoyed to set their side up.
Sacking Puel just three games in would mean resigning those three games to the scrapheap and essentially starting the season five, maybe six, matches behind the 19 sides Leicester are competing against. If it only takes four-and-a-half hours of football to decide a coach isn’t worth his pay cheque anymore, the decision should have been made and taken after any other stretch of game time that Puel resided over.
The Foxes have had the entire summer to ditch the Frenchman and nothing has changed this season to suggest axing him now would be any more beneficial than before.
They’d prosper far more by investing some faith in the bloke. They’re not going down and that’s about as guaranteed as it gets. So why hit the panic button now? Even if they kept Puel, hypothetically, for an entire season and he did fail, what would they have lost? A lower mid-table finish is far from damaging and it would give Leicester the chance to re-set and establish a long-term manager who suits the club’s plans better than the former Saints boss does.
Leicester have unfortunately missed the boat in giving Puel the boot. It’s paradoxically both too late and too early to lose him now and the whole situation smacks of poor management – off the pitch – along with a wildly inflated sense of greatness.
De Boer’s is a record that doesn’t need breaking and football fans should hope that, for the sake of Claude Puel and Leicester City, it remains firmly intact for another season yet.