Today we feature part two of Colin Murrant’s views, Colin being the first of our match reporting team looking back at last season and forwards to what we want next time around
Kasper won the Player of the Year Awards, would he have been your choice and who else do you think deserves praise for their performances
Kasper was the most consistent player and he has grown as a player. His game has developed and his shot stopping is second to none, his dealing with crosses has improved. His one outstanding weakness is his kicking which is very erratic and can be both brilliant or dreadful. His one asset that shines above all else is his motivation, his drive, his desire to win. He is the best leader on the park by a country mile. Articulate and often spokesmen for the players, one the media turn to.My Choice as PoY.
Consistency and effort have been the most desirable attributes this season. The three I put in this category are Simpson, Albrighton and Ndidi. Others probably shone more brightly in other games but these three gave it all regularly in my opinion.
Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?
Wilfred Ndidi. He is still young and raw and an amazing prospect. His debut in the FA Cup at Everton was described by some as the best ever City debut. He won his first two aerial battels against Lukaku which set the tone, he did get caught in possession a few times but has soon got up to speed with the demands of the PL.
He is still only 20 but his confidence shines through and, as Derby and Stoke can testify, he has a wicked shot. His partnership with Drinkwater looks promising and has allowed the latter to be more attack minded by taking a lot of the defensive duties away.
He seems very likeable and level headed. The recent paper-talk about a move away from the King Power were quickly denied by the player which is a refreshing change from the stony silence that usually is greeted by such stories. I believe he will show a lot of loyalty to the Club and be a mainstay of the team for years to come.
Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?
I would have said Slimani but I don’t know what his normal performance levels are.
I do not like particularly singling out one player, particularly last season when I think the group were poor, many players performed below their Championship winning standards. But in the spirit of the question, and not being one to sit on the fence, I will go for Riyad Mahrez. At times he has been sensational this season, but all too often he seemed to lack enthusiasm. He was marked heavily this year, teams doubling up or even trebling up on him. That left more space for other players but we never exploited it, too often Mahrez lost the ball going into a blind alley.
In terms of the sort of player he is, to me he is a luxury player in a team playing well. We know he is so skilful, such a flair player. I would suggest he is the most skilful player I have seen at Leicester since I started going to matches in the early sixties. However, truly great players lift teams that are struggling and I think he did not do that enough last year.
So I think he disappointed more than most, but he was one of the stars when we won the PL Title so I feel uneasy in naming him.
What were your views on the signings made during last season?
One of the reasons for Ranieri’s failure I believe: we should have bought some players with PL experience.
Ndidi – excellent as stated above.
Musa – disappointing. I think his best position is the Vardy role. He was sensational in the FA Cup tie at Everton. He also scored two goals in that position in the Barcelona match in Stockholm. Opportunities may not have come his way but he has not really shone in the few he had.
Kapustka – who knows? I was really pleased we signed him after his showing in the European Championship. I think he has ability in the matches I have seen him play, I hope he gets another chance.
Mendy – jury out. Injury ravaged season and looked good with Ndidi and Drinkwater at Everton. He was a Ranieri player as they were at Monaco together. Again, I hope he gets another chance to attune to the rigours of the English game.
Slimani – laid back. I am assuming we do not play to his strengths as his scoring record suggests he is a better player than we have witnessed. Heading in the box is his strength but he cannot hold up play nor does he win many headers in open play. Saw glimpses at times with his link up play with Vardy (e.g. Man City) but not often enough. If Shakey can find a formula that suits Vardy and Slimani we may have a player, but not optimistic about this happening.
For match reporters who attended away games, which ground gave you your best away experience and why?
The Etihad. Wonderful stadium, tram direct to ground. Bars, bands, food outside the ground with live interviews on mammoth screens. Inside the ground good seating near the pitch and humorous (mostly) with the Mancs.
Moving onto next season
What changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
A lot: New defenders, two centre backs, cannot rely on Huth and Benalouane as the former is like most of the back 4 well into his 30s, Yohan a red card waiting to happen.
I think Sam Hughes is bought as full back cover, Chilwell looks more like a wing back to me as he gets caught too often by wingers going past him on the outside.
Creative midfielder as we have lacked in that area this season.
Okazaki replacement, he falls over too often and doesn’t score enough goals. Deeney would fill that role superbly but I think he will not come given the fact we failed to get him last summer when we had the CL to offer. I also understand that Watford paid him substantially more than any Leicester player is receiving, in order to keep him at Vicarage Road.
While watching Premiership games during the 2016/7 season, which player from another club would you advise Shakey to sign?
Gylfi Sigurðsson, the creative midfielder I crave for. I know there are rumours at the moment about City buying him but I felt we should have signed him last season. So elegant, wonderful passing ability and a great free kick.
After all, FIFA17 never get it wrong;
Shot Power 82
Long Shots 83
Free Kick 88
Short Passing 83
Long Passing 75
What would you set as the targets(s) for next season?
Foremost I hope to see a lot more enthusiasm, desire and grit amongst the side; also creativity. A lot less reliance on Jamie Vardy for the goals. I think the recruitment is vital as the defence is ageing; the midfield looks weak if we sustain any injuries. If we resolve these issues then I think we could finish in the top 10 but more comfortably than we did his year to finish 12th. It is impossible to even have an educated guess at this stage given what could happen at City and the unknowns around what will happen at other clubs in the way of transfers in and out.
I do not see the promoted clubs being a threat and there were several teams above us in the Final table that I would expect us to finish above: therefore I go for 8th.
I hope we take the FA Cup seriously and believe that any club that does can progress to the latter stages depending on the draw; a home tie would be nice for a change. I was amazed how teams well up in the league, but not title contenders, put weak teams out last year in the 3rd round and were eliminated.
So final of one of the cups would be my target with an expectation to reach the semi-finals.
Any other observation you would like to make
I though we looked splendid in our Blue shirts, white shorts and white socks at Atletico Madrid away. I am a traditionalist and hate the passing of the white shorts. Also in 2017/18, the white has disappeared completely from our shirts to be replaced by gold: sacrilege! The Club will do well to remember and respect our heritage, it is change by stealth.
I wish Shakey all the best but he would not have been my choice as I still see him as a Coach. There seems to be good support for Shakey from the players but I think keeping the team spirit together as it is now, ‘The Band of Brothers ‘ cannot go on forever. I thought we would have a higher profile manager as what we have to offer a prospective player is much less that at the start of the 2016/17 season: I thought the club would need a higher profile boss for their brand image as well.
Having said that, the Thais have not let us down to date (kit apart) and so in them we trust.
The King is dead, long live the King
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation