Claude Puel’s Leicester find themselves sitting in 12th place following the 1-0 defeat against Spurs last weekend. The Foxes are chasing Europa League qualification and are seven points adrift of Wolves who currently occupy seventh place.
But after a brutal three-game run against Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, Leicester now face a nine-match streak of favourable opponents that on paper they should have a good chance of beating. During which, Puel will fight for his Leicester job.
The Foxes’ fan base is divided on whether or not the club should pull the trigger on the Frenchman.
Here are arguments for both sides.
An argument could be made that Puel’s side are unfortunate to be as far down the table as they are, the team’s results perhaps haven’t been a fair outcome when looking at their performances.
The previous two games are prime examples of this, against Manchester United and particularly the match with Tottenham. The Foxes were outplaying Spurs at Wembley and should have come away with more had they finished off some of the many chances they created.
So, in cases such as this, the criticism should fall on individual players for not taking their chances, rather than the manager.
Leicester’s performances against the top teams is another point in Puel’s favour. Big wins earlier in the season against Manchester City and Chelsea have shown Puel can get his team competing with the big boys.
One of the big positives from Puel’s time as Leicester manager has been the shift into a much more youthful side. The development of the Foxes’ young stars is vital for the team’s future. Under Puel we’ve seen academy products such as Hamza Choudhury and Harvey Barnes shine and add to what seems like an ever younger Leicester side.
Six of the players that lined-up to start the match at Wembley were 22 years old or younger, Jonny Evans and Kasper Schmeichel the only players who were above 30. Not being afraid give young players a chance and trying to build the foundations for the future is something to appreciate.
Now to look at the negatives which have been frustrating Leicester fans all season.
For every big win against a top side, there have been multiple failures in beating bottom of the table clubs. Not long after the wins against Manchester City and Chelsea we saw the Foxes brought back down to earth with agonising home defeats to Cardiff and Southampton, both teams are battling relegation.
Leicester have also dropped points so far this season against Brighton, Burnley and Fulham, getting knocked out the FA Cup by Newport County was another humiliating defeat.
Puel just doesn’t seem to get his side motivated to play these kinds of opponents, they don’t play with the same intensity they do when up against a team such as Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City. Wins in these games is what’s separating Leicester from finishing in a spot for Europa League qualification, this is what needs to change.
Team selections and substitutions are other things which Puel has annoyed fans with. Playing Demarai Gray as a sole striker, who doesn’t and didn’t perform well in that position, to start against Spurs when he has Jamie Vardy available is confusing, to say the least. Maybe if Vardy had started he would have finished off so many of those chances Leicester had created as he did when he came off the bench.
When his side were a goal down to Manchester United, just after the hour mark he made the decision to take his most creative player in James Maddison off the pitch. A decision that was rightly met with a chorus of boos from the Leicester fans.
Puel doesn’t seem to have inspired players or fans at Leicester. There’s probably a reason you don’t hear the fans at the King Power singing their manager’s name. The visit of Fulham in a few weeks time will be a strange occasion, with Foxes fans most likely serenading the opposition boss while no song will break out for their own.
These next nine games will make or break Puel’s time at Leicester, if he can fix the problems and start getting consistent results against lower table sides and make a push for seventh place then we may see him on the Foxes’ touchline for a while longer.