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FANS VIEW: Claude Puel

We spoke to OGC Nice supporter Aedan Nizza for a supporter's view on the new Southampton manager

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After weeks of speculation, bookies odds and false dawns, Claude Puel has been announced as the next man to step into the St Mary's hotseat.

Whilst Frank De Boer, Manuel Pellegrini and Rudi Garcia are all undoubtedly more recognisable names to Southampton fans, for one reason or another they were not favoured or not the right fit, so Puel has been selected as the right man.

As someone who has managed only within his home nation of France, we spoke to Aedan Nizza, a supporter of Puel's last club Nice where he served four seasons, taking Les Aiglons to fourth place in Ligue Un and the Europa League with the youngest squad in the league.

St Mary's Musings: Claude Puel is a name only Southampton fans with a knowledge of Ligue Un will recognise. For those who aren't familiar with him, who is Claude Puel?

Aedan Nizza: He played for Monaco during the 80's and mid 90's years as a Defensive Midfielder, known for having a lot of endurance. He played all his career for Nice's rivals but didn't really have his chance in national team.

He started his managing at Monaco and had amazing results for a young coach. He built a good team with Monaco and won the title very quickly but didn't have a good second year and he left. After that, he joined Lille and did an amazing job on the formation of young players there. 

When he came at Nice, he came with a new president, Jean-Pierre Rivère. It was a surprise to see a coach like him going to Nice. Even if he was hated at Lyon, we all thought that a team like Marseille or even Bordeaux would be more likely to have him. We were playing in a very old and small stadium, and it was a surprise to see him arrive at Nice.

He is liked and hated in France, but he is perhaps one of the most popular and respected coaches there.

SMM: You mentioned his liking for youth players; who has come through under his tutelage?

AN: He is the man who started the careers of Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet when he managed Monaco.

When you see how many good players came out of Lille's young academy (when Puel was there); players like Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy, then you know that he is very good for young people and players. He also brought through Ludovic Giuly, Jordan Amavi, Kevin Mirallas, Adil Rami and developed Stephan Lichtsteiner. At Nice now we have Vincent Koziello and Olivier Boscagli.

SMM: At Southampton, they typically play a 4-3-3 but at Nice last season he played a diamond. What formation and style does he tend to favour?

AN:  I can't really tell 'his' style. At Nice, for us, he had two very good years and two "bad years". But this year was amazing; he changed and implemented a very great style to watch. We really enjoyed this year.

This year, he played a 4-4-2 but asked to the midfield players to stay really close and really narrow, almost like a diamond. That gave a lot of space for the full-backs; Jeremy Pied and Ricardo Pereira, who were much better than last year full-backs, were amazing. His style this year that was good; it was  Guardiola-lite in how they played.

So I think at Southampton he will keep the same style; he will have more money than us, so he can do it quickly.


SMM: Finally, do you think he would be a good fit for Southampton?


AN:  I think Puel would be the best thing for Southampton as he will use the young players. In France we believe that your Premier League is not really using talent from England and buy too many players from other leagues. We don't really understand that because you have some amazing young players. Puel will use them more give them a really good chance to be a part of the team's future, that's the good thing with him.

And in France we talked a lot about Southampton because of Sadio Mane. We didn't really get how he became that good, because in our championship he was just an average player. It seems that he worked a lot in Austria and England.


Puel is a very special coach who can do the best, win a title in a year, and have a bad year the next one. Sometimes he acts more like a father, like he did with Ben Arfa. But if his Guardiola style football can work in your championship, then there will be no reason that Puel can't do something good.



We thank Aedan for his time. You can follow him on Twitter at @ValenciAzur !