We’ve grown so accustomed to the counter-attacking style Claudio Ranieri nurtured at Leicester City that is difficult to imagine the team playing any different. Yet, signs of change appeared throughout last season. For example, Leicester set a personal best in December, enjoying 63% of possession and completing 562 passes in a 3-2 on-the-road win against Newcastle. In general, possession sequences with ten or more passes spiked from 4.86 to 8.86 since Claude Puel took over.
Patience is the key for Puel’s Leicester
Puel arrived with a reputation as a coach who preferred a defensive-minded, counter-attacking approach. However, unlike his predecessors at Leicester, he also tends to adapt to opponents and likes to hold the ball more often. Those tactics made Puel’s side appear flat and purposeless for extended periods during the 2017/18 campaign. The Foxes lacked defensive organization and aggression.
There’s a reason behind it all. Adjusting to a new style of play takes time. What’s more important is that the French manager gave youngsters who weren’t featured under Shakespeare playing time. For example, he replaced the irreplaceable Christian Fuchs with Ben Chilwell and started Demarai Gray, who was a serial substitute, for nine straight games after taking over.
Former Leicester City attacker Tony Cottee believes the club needs to be patient with Puel.
“It’s very frustrating for managers not to be given the time they need to create their own team,”
“There’s a lot of pressure from the off to perform and I think Puel needs to be given time.”
Manchester United the first test for possession-oriented Foxes
Claude Puel has retained Leicester’s counter-attacking ability but improved their all-round play when the opposing players are sitting deep. He’s added something extra to their arsenal and given chances to the squad’s younger players.
Jonny Evans and Ricardo Pereira were acquired to stabilize Leicester’s defensive front and add some much-needed dynamism. Now it’s time to take the next step. The game against Manchester United will be a chance to see how The Foxes have progressed.
“We’ve classically been a counter-attacking type of side. The manager now wants us to try and take a bit more control of the game, to try and dominate possession a little bit more,”
“It’s going to be difficult away from home at Manchester United, but it’s something that we’re going to have to be brave enough to try.”- Kasper Schmeichel
If they succeed, European qualification might be closer than people realize.
Leicester City projected starting lineup for 2018/19 season
GK – Kasper Schmeichel
RB – Ricardo Pereira
LB – Ben Chilwell
CB – Harry Maguire
CB – Jonny Evans
DM – Wilfred Ndidi
CM – Vicente Iborra
CM – James Maddison
RW – Demarai Gray
LW – Marc Albrighton
CF – Jamie Vardy