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After signing to fill the vacant manager slot in June,

Southampton manager Claude Puel has slowly moulded the South Coast club to fit his design.

Claude Puel's 2016-17 Southampton revampTaking the top job with the Saints after the loss of Ronald Koeman to Everton, Puel faced the familiar challenge of having to rebuild their team after a series of high profile departures.

Key striker Graziano Pellè left England for China, winger Sadio Mané joined Liverpool and midfielder Victor Wanyama moved to London with Tottenham. The three important members of 2015-16’s success had to be replaced – which the French manager has done adequately.

Midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg signed from Bayern Munich, Sofiane Boufal joined from Lille giving options out wide or in attacking-midfield and interestingly, Nathan Redmond was brought in to compliment the strike force.

When on form the squad seems to have no problem in playing attractive football and have no outwardly visible weak points, though they are guilty of being wasteful around the goal on several occasions. Puel has successfully managed to deal with the departures and build a competitive squad since coming to the club.

A different approach

One aspect of the new manager’s style that has surprised many has been his approach to handling the fixture load of the club due to their Europa League qualification. The former Nice man has implemented an unconventionally high rotation policy between fixtures.

All but one of the 28 man roster have been in a matchday squad and just two – one of whom is a goalkeeper – are yet to play minutes. Injury has occasionally forced the manager’s hand, but for the most part it seems a preference to use the bulk of the players at his disposal.

It is typical for big clubs to give minutes to second or third-string options during cup competitions, but it is between all midweek fixtures that Puel has high turnover in his squad. The highest number of players that have started in a weekend’s Premier League fixture, then again in the Europa League, is four including the goalkeeper.

Switching the formation up

Both Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino favoured the 4-2-3-1 formation during their time as managers and this has become the most commonplace lineup in the Premier League. Puel, however, has implemented a 4-3-1-2 formation which required a completely new approach.

Dusan Tadić was installed in attacking-midfield with a combination of two from Redmond, Charlie Austin, Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long leading the line. This varied greatly from the previous system, which heavily relied on the wide players as outlets for the Saints’ attack.

With no wingers, play was structured through the centre of the park with the options in the wider parts of the pitch given by the two fullbacks – who would often cross the ball from deep. It also allowed Tadić and Redmond the freedom to drift across the final third as they saw suitable.

In recent matches the manager has gone to 4-3-3 formation – reverting to a solo striker supporter by two wingers, but whether or not this will be a permanent change is as yet unclear.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Jackson Delmenico, Twitter: @JayLukeDee
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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