Southampton fans need to be careful what they wish for

Claude Puel appears to be edging closer to the door at Southampton and a large number of fans seem happy to see the back of him.

The Frenchman, who only joined the South-coast club in June, is currently on holiday while the Southampton board consider his future, with The Independent reporting they are already looking at ex-Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel among others.

According to The Telegraph, the review of the 55-year-old’s first Premier League season began as far back as May after what many fans consider to have been an underwhelming season.

Puel led the Saints eighth in the league and reached the League Cup final but also frustrated fans with his defensive tactics.

But considering the problems the Frenchman has faced over the last 12 months, are the fans right to want to show him the exit? Nobody is saying Puel has set the league alight this year – Southampton finish two places below last season’s league finish under Ronald Koeman and managed 17 point less.

Puel surely deserves some sympathy after having to cope without his two first-choice centre backs since January as Jose Fonte departed for West Ham and Virgil Van Dijk sustained ligament damage and was sidelined for the season.

Despite these setbacks, Puel managed to solidify the defence and managed five clean sheets in 11 games despite not adding any defensive reinforcements in the January window.

Jack Stephens – the 22-year-old who stepped up after Van Dijk’s injury – has been a revelation at the back, while Maya Yoshida now looks like Premier League quality after an indifferent Saints career to date.

Stephens isn’t the only youngster to be given a chance either as homegrown talents like Josh Sims and Sam McQueen earned game-time alongside the likes of James Ward-Prowse, who made his most league starts to date with 22.

Some people may also forgetting they managed all this without joint top scorers Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane, who both left the club in the summer.

And who knows how Southampton would have fared were it Van Dijk competing in the air against Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the match-winner that ultimately lost them the cup?

There are, of course, a number of reasons why the board are considering whether to stick with the Frenchman.

If positions and points aren’t everything, the brand of football certainly is – somewhere Puel has definitely fallen short.

Mauricio Pochettino was credited with bringing in the high-tempo play which had let to Southampton’s success over recent years, while Ronald Koeman added to that and brought in some defensive resilience to lead them to 7th and then 6th place in his two seasons in charge.

Puel’s more pragmatic approach has bored the fans at times, with the Saints only managing 41 goals all season and only Sunderland scoring less goals at home.

On top of that, there are rumours of a bust up with key players like Ryan Bertand – as per the Daily Star – and the Saints hierarchy may be worried they could lose players like him and Van Dijk unless a new manager is brought in.

It’s easy to see why the board are weighing up the possibilities with both Tuchel and ex-Salzburg and Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt – two managers who have impressed with high-intensity, attacking football – both without clubs.

Should they not have someone lined up already however, Southampton fans should be weary of pushing Puel towards the door before they see it become a revolving one.