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Whispering Claude: why the quiet men are sometimes the most effective

It’s an age old technique – if you want your words to really to sink in don’t shout or scream them, say them quietly, whisper.

A telling off at school, or by a parent was always more terrifying when the discipline was being served softly. Likewise, often the best way to win an argument or change someone’s opinion is not to shout in their face, but to calmly and quietly talk and explain to them.

It is with this attitude that Claude Puel approaches football management. Despite managing Southampton for a sole season, it still felt like Puel was a bit of a mystery when Leicester’s appointed him. It could be argued that this is due to his calm demeanour and levelheadedness in the public eye.

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Puel’s appointment was met with much apathy, a collective shrug from fans and journalists alike as the (supposedly) uninspiring Frenchman took over the reins.

Despite his time at Southampton being supposedly nothing to write home about it, is worth noting that he  guided them to an 8th place finish in the Premier League and to the League Cup final – a game which they really should have won, losing only due to a late Ibrahimovic goal amid a controversial offside decision.

Leicester have only lost one leauge game since Puel took over, and that was against Manchester City so it cannot be considered a significant blot on his record. For comparison, they had only managed two wins in the previous eight matches under Craig Shakespeare.

But what has Puel done to get Leicester back up and firing again? Upon his arrival the Leciester City’s vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha was quick to highlight Puel’s in-depth knowledge of the squad, whilst his clear vision for Leicester was a key factor in his hiring.

On the pitch he’s got the old guard of Vardy and Mahrez looking the closest to their 2015-16 form since that famous championship winning season, with the pair notching five goals and assists in the league between them since he joined. Equally impressively is the improvement of Demari Gray, who before Puel joined looked as if his time in the Midlands might be coming to a close. Gray has now established himself as an important part of the team with two league goals to his name since Puel took over.

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We live in a world of celebrity, of big personalities, a way of life which has gradually permeated its way into football. Be it Eric Cantona and his iconic deadpan celebration, Ibrahimovic referring to himself in the 3rd person or as a lion or even Gareth Southgate flogging pizza after losing a penalty shootout in a World Cup (still not forgiven for that one Gareth), the beautiful game has always and will always be awash and obsessed with the cult of personality.

But for as much as we enjoy Jose Mourinho or Antonio Conte’s fiery press conferences and the fact that Paul Pogba’s has his own emoji, one can’t help but wonder, in a world where everyone is shouting to be heard if it might not be better to take a different approach to be noticed, a more subtle, delicate way forward. Instead of screaming, why not whisper?

Written by Dom Clarke.

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