Three reasons Southampton should stick with Claude Puel

Southampton manager Claude Puel

Southampton manager Claude Puel is far from universally popular, despite overseeing a decent season.

Southampton manager Claude Puel during trainingSouthampton manager Claude Puel has not enjoyed the popularity of his predecessors

Following a disheartening defeat in Southampton’s last Premier League match with Manchester City, some fans were again calling for Claude Puel’s head despite the team sitting ninth.

While there’s by no means a majority who want Puel out, such opinions are not hard to find and his subdued demeanor when talking to the media certainly hasn’t helped endear him to fans.

With that criticism in mind, here are three reasons why Southampton should keep the Frenchman:

He’s promoting academy talent

A big positive from Puel’s first season is the way he’s developed some of the club’s youngsters, something Ronald Koeman neglected to do in his two years at St Mary’s.

James Ward-Prowse has finally been given a proper run of starts and the results are striking – he’s probably been the club’s best midfielder since the turn of the year and has made his senior England debut.

West Ham United's Pedro Obiang in action with Southampton's James Ward-ProwseJames Ward-Prowse has scored four goals this season, the amount he recorded in the previous five years combined

Sam McQueen, having been converted to left-back after Puel’s arrival has been given his chance and looked at home in the top flight while Josh Sims too has impressed, although perhaps hasn’t been given as many appearances as he should have.

The cup final deserves to be cherished

Southampton fans need to remember that the club has only once won a major trophy in its 132-year history.

Major cup finals don't come along often either, which makes the club's superb run this season even more impressive.

Southampton's Manolo Gabbiadini celebrates scoring their second goalSouthampton's Wembley fightback showed impressive character and was facilitated by Puel's tactics

Getting to the EFL Cup final, and being genuinely unfortunate to lose having dominated the game, is not an achievement to be scoffed at.

He didn’t sell stars

Most would agree that the biggest reason for Southampton’s decline this campaign is the lack of firepower up front.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring their second goalSadio Mane has scored twice as many Premier League goals as any Southampton player

Sadio Mane hasn’t been replaced and his absence has only been magnified by his form for Liverpool, while once a talisman of the ilk of Graziano Pelle arrived in January the upturn in results was damning of the decision to go into the season without a top goalscorer.

Oh, and Victor Wanyama’s been sorely missed too. Let’s not forget that selling these players, like most recruitment decisions, wasn’t Puel’s doing.

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