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Will Claude Puel be another good decision from Leicester's owners?

For better or for worse, Leicester City have made another big decision. Former manager Craig Shakespeare will feel harshly treated after his sacking, but he is not the first to feel that way. The club's owners, the Srivaddhanaprabha family, are not squeamish. In their short time in English football, they have proved themselves to be among the most ruthless of the Premier League owners. And so far it has worked.

The decision to fire Nigel Pearson led them to Claudio Ranieri and the title in 2015-16. The controversial call to sack Ranieri, less than a year after the most unlikely fairytale in modern football, saved them from a relegation battle. Will this week's appointment of Claude Puel prove similarly successful?

"I think it's another good call," former Leicester player and coach Chris Powell told ESPN FC. "I've always admired them."

Powell was already on the Leicester coaching staff when the Srivaddhanaprabha family arrived in the summer of 2010. A veteran left-back whose career had taken him from Crystal Palace to Southend, Derby, Charlton and Watford, he joined the Foxes as a player in 2008 and started his coaching career in 2009 under Nigel Pearson, in his first spell at the club and was retained by Paulo Sousa. And then Milan Mandaric sold the club to one of Thailand's richest families.

"It was a new beginning for Leicester," Powell told ESPN FC. "No-one knew anything about them. Sadly, Paulo lost his job after their arrival, but myself and Mike Stowell took the team for one game and on the Friday night, I had a phone call from the son, whose nickname is Top. He told me that Sven Goran-Eriksson was coming in and we were going to work with him. That was a big statement. It was a statement from them that they wanted Leicester be the best."

Unfortunately for Eriksson, it didn't work out that way. He lasted little over a year. Powell had already left for his first managerial job at Charlton when the end came, but he has watched Leicester's owners with interest ever since.

"They will make big decisions, but they will seek counsel with people at the football club, the manager and the staff," he said. "They've been true to their word, they listen to the public, and they've done some great, great things.

"You can see how they've engaged with the supporters. They've backed their managers too, but they've also made improvements to the structure of the club. The training facilities are almost unrecognisable now from when I was there, they've really taken the club on."

Puel's credentials certainly can't be questioned. He won the title with Monaco, took Lyon to the Champions League semifinals and lifted Nice into the Champions League places before his disappointing spell at Southampton. But was it really that disappointing? Puel took his team to the League Cup final, where they were unlucky to lose to Manchester United, and finished eighth in the league. They've only finished higher twice in the Premier League era.

Puel did some good things at Southampton, but lost his job.

But right from the start, it was obvious that there was a disconnect between Puel and the Southampton fans. It didn't help that those two higher finishes were both achieved by his immediate predecessor Ronald Koeman, nor was his patient style of football particularly appreciated.

Southampton were ranked seventh for touches and completed passes in the league that year; Puel is not a man who likes to risk losing possession with smart direct balls or bold counter-attacks... in other words, precisely the sort of football that Leicester have been playing for the past two years.

"I think it's wise not just to look at his last job, but to look at his entire career and I'm sure the owners have checked what they needed to check," Powell said.

"Maybe they feel that they want a change, maybe they feel that want a different style. They've brought in some different players now. There's Andre Silva, who can't play until January, there's Vicente Iborra, there's Kelechi Iheanacho. They've always played a counter-attacking style because it's suited the players they have, but maybe they feel that they're ready for a change.

"But Puel, like any manager worth his salt, he'll go in and look at the players, and he'll assess it. They've made big calls before. They usually get them right. Leicester have raised the bar. They've raised the bar for a lot of clubs, clubs that might have thought they were middle of the road. And once you've had a taste of that, you want more."

It's a bold hire, one that has been questioned, albeit not as much as their other big decisions. Will it work? Will Leicester rise back out of the lower reaches of the league? On Sunday, when Everton arrive, we'll start to find out.

Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.


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