By 90Min
March 22, 2018

Leicester City currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League table, three points from seventh placed Burnley, and with eyes on European football next season. 

While many from the outside looking in would say that it has been a good season for the club, a section of fans in the terraces and on social media are not entirely satisfied with the recent form of the team. 

Leicester have recorded just 3 victories in their last 13 Premier League games, and their last three home games in the league have resulted in 1-1 draws against Swansea, Stoke and Bournemouth - games in which fans feel they should have got more from. 

The gaffer and the skipper arrive! 😄🙌 #LeiBou

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But, Leicester are in the middle of a transition under manager Claude Puel. 

Leicester are traditionally known as a counter attacking side, and this served them well for the title winning season, where teams couldn't cope with the speed of their counter attacks. But during that season, Leicester were still somewhat of an unknown force, and by the time teams had worked them out, it was too late. Leicester lifted the first top division title in their 134 year history. 

One of the reasons that Leicester struggled last season (the season after the league win) was due to teams giving them more respect, and not taking the chance of being susceptible to the pace that Leicester have on the counter-attack. They would sit back and let Leicester take the initiative. They didn't have answers, and this led to the cycle of losing matches, poor form and a drop in confidence.

Clive Rose/GettyImages

Leicester were still somewhat of an unknown quantity in the Champions League, and even though teams probably knew what to expect from the Foxes, the extent of their counter-attacking threat was underestimated until teams played them. 

Teams in the Champions League are also used to being the top teams in their country, so were not inclined to sit behind the ball, allowing Leicester to play to their strengths in the competition and reach the quarter final. 


Leicester went back to basics under the guidance of Craig Shakespeare, and while it worked for the short-term, teams soon worked out how to counteract the threat, by stopping main threats Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez finding space in behind the defence. 

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-BOURNEMOUTH

Puel came in in October, and has openly said that he is looking to change Leicester into a more possession-based team. The Frenchman had a brilliant start to his tenure, leading the team to 5 wins in his first 8 games in charge, which meant that Leicester went from relegation candidates to the safety of 8th place in the league, and looking up instead of down. 

It can be seen in the stats how Puel is slowly implementing his style on his Leicester team. Average possession has raised from 46% to 50%, and taking into account that Leicester have also played Manchester City both home and away in that time, that is a significant difference. 

The average pass length has reduced by 1m, and pass accuracy has increased from 72% to 75%. 

As well as an increase in possession, one of the significant changes that has been noticed in Leicester's play under Puel is the role of the full back. Over the last few seasons, both Danny Simpson at right back and Christian Fuchs at left back have been instructed to concentrate on being part of the defensive unit, and have not been encouraged to push forward like most modern full backs seem to like to do. 

However, this has changed under Puel, with Simpson and either Fuchs or Ben Chilwell encouraged to push up and be involved in the attacking side of the play. For Simpson especially, it's not a side of his game that he is not the most comfortable with, and while he's trying, he doesn't have the attacking prowess to be influential.

Puel has only had one transfer window to operate in as Leicester manager, and it was the January window, which is notoriously difficult. 

He also had to deal with the Riyad Mahrez saga at the end of the window. It is likely that in the upcoming summer transfer window, Puel will strengthen in the full back role, bringing in full backs who are more comfortable further up the pitch. Names already linked include Tottenham's Kieran Trippier and Benfica right back Andre Almeida. 

Puel is also still getting to know his squad after arriving at the club mid-season. With Leicester in no real trouble of being dragged into the relegation dog fight, Puel may have seen the last few weeks as an opportunity to experiment and get to know who his best team is. Matty James and Adrien Silva have been given their chance alongside Wilfred Ndidi in the middle of the park, with Vicente Iborra recently winning his place back with his composure on the ball. 

Leicester fans may have been spoilt over the last few years, with success in both the league and Champions League. They are now under a period of transition as both a club and a team. While Leicester fans may be used to fast attacking football, the model was not sustainable for the long-term success that both the fans and club crave, and a transition to more possession based passing football is the next step in the development of the club. 

But transitions in football can take time, and may hit a few bumps in the road. Leicester fans have already seen flashes of what is to come under Puel in games against Southampton and Tottenham, but patience in the terraces will be needed in the short term as the manager builds his team and the players adapt to the new style. 

Let's not forget that Leicester sit in eighth place in the Premier League table, and still in with a good shout of playing European football next season. That's a pretty good transition season! 

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