Claude Puel defended his decision to haul James Maddison off after just over an hour of Leicester City’s 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United and called for the club’s supporters to back Rachid Ghezzal.
The decision to replace Maddison with Ghezzal as the Foxes heaped pressure on United was met with boos from Leicester fans but Puel insisted the introduction of the Algeria international was warranted.
Maddison is a popular figure at King Power Stadium after scoring five goals in 23 Premier League appearances this season, while Ghezzal has had fewer opportunities to impress Leicester fans, starting just six times.
Puel told BBC Sport: “We have possibilities on the bench also and Rachid needs good support from the fans.
“He’s a fantastic player with the ball, he can make the difference.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) February 3, 2019
“He has fantastic free-kicks and he can give the right pass and good assists. We have to find a solution, and from the bench a player can bring their quality. It’s normal.”
Leicester have won just once in the league since the turn of the year, beating Everton on January 1 but losing three and drawing one of their subsequent four games.
Jamie Vardy was one of a number of players to miss opportunities to equalise against United as Leicester had the better of the second half, and Puel lamented his side’s slow start during which Marcus Rashford scored the only goal of the game.
“It’s a big shame,” said the Frenchman. “[There was] a lot of disappointment at the end.
“We started the game with poor performance, without intensity. It was a shame.
“United also didn’t start very well but we didn’t take our responsibility enough in this moment. We played without the intention to play forwards.
“It’s a disappointment because we showed the quality sometimes and when we push we can hurt them. Too many times we concede goals early like this and afterwards it’s too difficult to come back into the game.”
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