Leicester axe Puel, target Rodgers as successor

Wilfried Zaha scoring the second goal for Crystal Palace who beat Leicester 4-1 on Saturday. The Foxes dismissed manager Claude Puel after the club's fourth straight home loss.
Wilfried Zaha scoring the second goal for Crystal Palace who beat Leicester 4-1 on Saturday. The Foxes dismissed manager Claude Puel after the club's fourth straight home loss.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Leicester City yesterday sacked manager Claude Puel after their 4-1 Premier League home thrashing by Crystal Palace on Saturday and want to appoint Celtic's Brendan Rodgers as his successor.

The club are expected to make an immediate attempt to lure the Ulsterman, but are prepared to wait until the summer for the former Liverpool boss.

It is uncertain whether Rodgers would want to leave Celtic mid-season when he has the chance to win an unprecedented third treble in three seasons at Parkhead.

They could also consider Newcastle's Rafael Benitez, whose contract expires in June, but they have made Rodgers their first-choice target after some months of succession planning.

While the hope had been that Puel could continue until the end of this season, the heavy defeat prompted the club's hierarchy to act, dispensing with their third manager in 23 months.

It was the team's fourth straight loss at the King Power Stadium, and they have been beaten six times and held once in seven games since New Year's Day.

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    Losses out of seven games (1D, 6L) Leicester have suffered under Claude Puel's watch since New Year's Day.

The 57-year-old Frenchman took over from Craig Shakespeare in October 2017 on a three-year deal and the club finished ninth in his first season.

An official statement read: "The club would like to thank Claude for his efforts in leading the team during his 16 months in the role and wish him well in his future career."

Jacky Bonnevay, Puel's assistant, has also left, with first-team coaches Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler placed in temporary charge, while "the club begins the process of appointing a new manager".

The Foxes may try to bring in an interim manager if they get signals from Rodgers that he is willing to take over in the summer.

Earlier this month, Peter Schmeichel, father of Leicester goalkeeper Kasper, said the club did not have a manager capable of getting the best out of the players and indicated that his son might be looking to move on.

Jamie Vardy had also been critical of Puel's style of play this term and, while the Frenchman claimed there was no rift with the forward, British media reports suggested otherwise.

The 2016 league champions are 12th in the table and their season was marked by tragedy in October when then owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people were killed in a helicopter crash.

Their next game is a league trip to 16th-placed Brighton tomorrow.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2019, with the headline 'Leicester axe Puel, target Rodgers as successor'. Print Edition | Subscribe