Is Claude Puel to leave Southampton?
When Ronald Koeman left Southampton during the summer of 2016 the job of replacing the popular Dutchman was always going to be an inevitable task, this has been evident for current boss Claude Puel.
Southampton currently sit 9th in the Premier League table, not a bad position when you consider the overturn of players during each summer for the club however they are now sitting more than twenty points worse off than they did last season. The EFL cup final defeat was hard for the club to take as a whole and if the position of manager Claude Puel is under threat then maybe the cup run might just prove to be a saving grace for the Frenchman.
The fans booing at half time during the recent 0-0 draw with relegation strugglers Hull City was just an indication of the discontent that has been reported recently at St Mary’s. There has been reported training ground bust ups which has added to the speculation, most recently with left back Ryan Bertrand. Then the very strange decision he opted to make when he subbed Shane Long after bringing the Irishman on as a sub has led to rumours that Puel does not have a great relationship with this group of players. The disappointing factor for Puel and this Southampton side is the playing style. A lot of the time when I have watched the team this season they have looked very one dimensional, obviously losing Charlie Austin was a massive blow for the side but a lot of the time, they sit quite deep and set up into a very solid shape, however rarely do they go direct from back to front. The fans have expressed how they do not like the playing style under Puel and that his constant rotation of the squad is hindering any real development for the team. Talented English players like Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse and Sam McQueen have been over rotated this season, and then there is the inconsistency of their playmaker Dusan Tadic, which is understandable as he has struggled to form partnerships with his frontline with the constant changes. Sofiane Boufal who cost the club a record at the time 15m has been unfortunate with injury but has barely been seen this season. Manolo Gabbiadini has been the real positive for the Saints this season after hitting the ground running following his arrival during the January transfer window.
Should the Southampton board decide to part ways with the well-respected Frenchman then the next manager will have to deal with the same constant problem at the club in recent times, which is the selling of their better players. Right back Cedric Soares could find himself a highly sought after player this summer with his impressive performances for club and country. Virgil Van Dijk almost certainly will find himself playing for one of the top four clubs in England next season. Oriol Romeu, Dusan Tadic, Fraser Forster and even possibly Gabbiadini could be other names linked with an exit from the club.
One manager who could have put the Southampton board on alert is the current Hull City manager Marco Silva. The former Olympiakos man has displayed his credentials in English football, whether Hull City gets relegated or not his reputation in the game throughout Europe has taken a massive rise. It would be hard to expect to see Silva at the KCOM Stadium next season and with his age and philosophies he might just be the man Southampton need moving forward. Not to speculate too much as to who could potentially take over from Puel, but former Villarreal manager Marcelino is another name who could be linked with a number of clubs this summer. He performed admirably during his time at the Spanish club, and transformed them into Champions league contenders in La Liga, his style of football can be described as a bit dull bit it is highly effective.
The hope would be that the Southampton board give Puel a full pre-season, time and funds to get more identity to this Southampton side. Try and keep hold of his top players and invest money into the central defence and another striker and this team is capable of competing further up the Premier League table. With the money these ‘top’ English clubs are spending and the clubs around them are spending in the modern game fans needs to be realistic of what Southampton should be aiming for.