Puel pays price for poor end to the Saints' season

LONDON • Southampton sacked manager Claude Puel after less than a year on Wednesday as the Frenchman paid the price for a dismal end to the Premier League season.

He had led Southampton to the League Cup final in February, but a 3-2 defeat by Manchester United ended his hopes of silverware and was followed by a woeful run of results in the run-in.

Southampton won only one of their final eight league games, scoring just one goal in their last five home matches. They finished eighth in the table with their lowest points tally (46) in four years.

"Southampton Football Club can today confirm that it has terminated the contract of Claude Puel with immediate effect," the club said in a statement.

"Everyone at Southampton would like to express our thanks to Claude for his hard work and commitment this year."

Following the departure of Ronald Koeman to Everton, the 55-year-old Puel joined the club last June, after spending four years at French side Nice.

"The highlight of the season was a memorable day at Wembley in the EFL Cup final, a day our fans will always treasure," Southampton added in their statement.

Former Southampton great Matt Le Tissier told Sky Sports that it was Puel's failure to entertain fans that ultimately cost him his job.

"I think the main sticking point was the lack of goals and the lack of entertaining football," Le Tissier said.

"No goals in the last five home games was a big factor. I am afraid that was what cost him his job.

"There is a lot of sympathy when you look at the eighth-place finish and Cup final.

"On paper, it doesn't look a bad season, but if you have watched a lot of games this season, it has been a backward step."

The club said the search for a new manager was already under way and they were confident of finding the right fit for the club's "long-term vision".

Former Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel was the bookmakers' early favourite to replace Puel.

The former Alaves manager Mauricio Pellegrino and Reading's Jaap Stam could also be contenders. Whoever does so will be the club's fourth manager in a little over four years, following on from Mauricio Pochettino and Koeman.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2017, with the headline 'Puel pays price for poor end to the Saints' season'. Print Edition | Subscribe