PARIS (Reuters) – Claude Puel is returning to coaching, replacing Ghislain Printant at St Etienne on a three-year deal, the Ligue 1 club said on Friday.
Former Leicester and Southampton coach Puel, 58, will be back in the French elite three years after leaving Nice, having also led Monaco to the first division title in 2000.
Printant, who started his job as main coach this season, was sacked on Friday after a series of poor results left Les Verts second from bottom in Ligue 1 ahead of France’s fiercest derby against Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday.
Puel took Southampton to the English League Cup final in 2017 and to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League, but he never won over the Saints’ fans and was sacked after one season.
He was sacked from Leicester City last February after 16 months in charge.
Although he failed to become a leading coaching figure in England, Puel benefits from a good reputation in France.
A rough midfielder who spent his whole playing career at Monaco from 1979-1996, Puel also coached Lille for six consecutive years before taking Lyon to their first Champions League semi-final in 2010.
At St Etienne, he will be tasked with reviving the 100-year-old club’s glory years.
Les Verts have won a record 10 top-flight titles but their last was in 1981.
Sunday’s derby at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium is the perfect opportunity for Puel to win over the fans in his first game in charge.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Fallon)