New faces in dugout aim to win over fans

Everton forwards Wayne Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin warming up before their League Cup tie against Chelsea on Wednesday. Caretaker boss David Unsworth has stated that his starting line-up at Leicester today will not be dictated by price tags.
Everton forwards Wayne Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin warming up before their League Cup tie against Chelsea on Wednesday. Caretaker boss David Unsworth has stated that his starting line-up at Leicester today will not be dictated by price tags.PHOTO: REUTERS

Unsworth has until next break to stake claim, Foxes' Puel defends his pragmatic approach

LONDON • The last two Premier League clubs to sack their managers this season go head-to-head in Leicester today as Claude Puel takes charge of Leicester for the first time and David Unsworth seeks the victory that would strengthen his chances of landing the Everton job permanently.

Unsworth has held talks with Everton's major shareholder Farhad Moshiri. And while there is no time frame on his caretaker role with the first team, he is expected to get until next month's international break to press his claim.

"I said to the players after the game, if we perform like that, we will be absolutely fine and (will) start climbing the table very soon," Unsworth said of their midweek 1-2 loss to Chelsea in the League Cup round of 16.

His team selection at Stamford Bridge was notable for the absence of most of the expensive summer signings. Wayne Rooney was the only outfield player who started, with £45 million (S$80.6 million) club-record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson and £30 million defender Michael Keane on the bench.

Unsworth claims his choice was not a reflection of Everton's transfer strategy and says his selections will not be influenced by price tags.

"I will always pick what I believe is the strongest team to win a game of football," he said. "It doesn't matter if they are new signings or if they have come through the ranks."

Everton were 18th in the table with eight points after nine games while Leicester were 14th before yesterday's matches. Puel has targeted a top-half finish.

"It's not a dream - it's a reality. For me, it's a big club and a fantastic opportunity," said the Frenchman, who was sacked by Southampton in June despite leading the club to eighth place and the League Cup final. "We can be a force."

He also rejected concerns about his playing style during his first press conference since his appointment on Wednesday and declared that winning is more important than entertaining.

Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier felt the Saints were "boring and a little bit dull" last season.

But Puel said of the complaint: "It is not important about this.

"Last season for example, we developed good football without the clinical edge. We were seventh place for creating chances but 20th for converting. But that is finished.

"It is important to stay with good focus about Leicester. It is not a priority just to play good football or nice football. The priority is to win."

THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline 'New faces in dugout aim to win over fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe