Claude Puel says Leicester have put Riyad Mahrez saga behind them
Mahrez made his return to the starting line-up for the first time since the collapse of his proposed transfer to Manchester City.
Claude Puel insists the Riyad Mahrez saga was put to bed once and for all with the reception the midfielder received from the Leicester fans on Friday night.
Mahrez made his return to the starting line-up – and was back at the King Power Stadium – for the first time since going AWOL after the
collapse of his proposed transfer to Manchester City.
The Algerian received warm applause from the home supporters when his name was announced before the FA Cup fifth round tie against Sheffield United, and a standing ovation when he was substituted late on.
It was Mahrez’s deep cross from the right which brought the only goal of the tie as Jamie Vardy’s looping header in the 66th minute sent Leicester through to the quarter-finals.
“It’s behind us,” said Leicester boss Puel. “Riyad came back with high quality and it is a good feeling for us of course.
“It was good support from the fans to Riyad and important to remain a good feeling for the future.
“I said before it was important to remain united after this situation but it was good in the end to see the good feeling.
“The most important thing was to win the game and to see again Jamie and Riyad play together is a good feeling. Riyad was a little frustrated at the end of the game because he wanted to score, but that is good.”
Three first-half chances came and went for Vardy as Leicester toiled for a breakthrough but the Sheffield Wednesday fan would not be denied and eventually struck to put the Blades to the sword.
“Congratulations to Sheffield United – they played very well with good organisation and a strong defence and it was difficult for us to find space,” said Puel.
“But I was happy about Jamie because he had had two or three good chances and he kept good focus and concentration for the next chance. It was a good feeling for him to score as it is important for striker to score.”
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder said: “We’re disappointed but we always knew it’d be difficult when the team sheet came in.
“I think they are in a different situation to us. No disrespect but they’re not going to win the Premier League and they’re not going to get in the Champions League and they are looking at this as a trophy that they can realistically go and win, so they picked a strong side.
“We have a big game on Tuesday and it was a little bit of prioritisation for us, but not too much. We are the dark horses to get into the play-offs but that is what we will try to do in the remaining 15 games.”