Today is Eddie Blount’s turn to provide his thoughts on last season and start planning for the next, as our series continues from our match reporting team
Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve ?
At the start of the 2017-18 season I was unusually uncertain as to what to hope for re City’s fortunes. The norm expectation – premiership survival however achieved – seemed churlish in the light of the Glorious Season of 2015-16 and the wonderful Champions’ League exploits of 2016-17.
To set the sights too low would be akin to a failure to acknowledge the momentous achievements of the recent past, yet to aim too high might be a sign of unrealistic expectations. A further complication was that our splendid owners had spent more in the transfer window than we had ever spent and I almost felt as though I owed it to them to set the bar high. Yet we are City and know the roller-coaster ride that this traditionally entails. I settled for top half and either qualifying for the dreaded Europa League or doing very well in at least one of the Cups.
Given the way the season progressed from early relegation threat, to hopes of European football to then a season petering out, then throw in a couple of good cup runs, how would you rate last season overall out of 10 and why?
So my rating for what actually transpired would be 6.5 out of 10. A top half finish is commendable but we made no better a fist of chasing Burnley than Spurs did of chasing us two years ago. It was there for the taking given our run of favourable fixtures but we could hardly have messed it up better had we done so intentionally (we didn’t, did we?). A Cup final would have sufficed and so nearly came off but again we faltered on the home straight.
Harry McGuire won the Player of the Year Awards, would he have been your choice and who else do you think deserves praise for their performances?
My player of the year would have been a choice between Maguire, Ndidi and Vardy with the latter getting the nod for his quality finishing and non-stop endeavour whilst ploughing at times a very lone furrow
What were your views on the signings made during last season ?
The pre-season signings were disappointing on the whole with the success of Ndidi and to a lesser extent Iborra and Dragovic plus the promise of Diabate counterbalanced by the under-achievements of Slimani, Musa and until close to the end of the season, Iheanacho and Silva
Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why ?
My biggest under-achiever was Mahrez who could learn much from Vardy about maximising potential by sheer effort. Mahrez was brilliant at times but inconspicuous at others and contributed more than a little to the partial demise of Simpson. His mind was not 100% devoted to the club and yet Danny Drinkwater has shown what can happen to a player who has made it with a club outside the elite and then joins such a club. At Man City Mahrez will be just another really good player so it pays to be careful what you wish for.
What was your personal highlight of the season?
My personal highlight of the season was the Vardy volley from the inch-perfect pass by Mahrez, a truly wonderful goal
Moving onto next season
The main question towards the end of the season was would you keep Claude Puel to carry out the re-building obviously needed over the summer and what is behind your reasoning?
I am not yet a fan of Puel but will reserve judgment when I see his signings and how we progress up to the end of the year. I did not agree with some of the game time he gave to the younger players. Chilwell in particular cost us several points with defending which sat uneasily with his qualities going forward but I was also disappointed with the lack of progress of Gray.
Having said that Iheanacho showed signs of a lot more to come so we may yet see Man City pay £50 million to buy him back. The playing of Choudhury as effectively a fifth centre-back at home against sides battling relegation was incomprehensible. In addition I did not see the logic in sending both Ulloa and Slimani out on loan at the same time so that we were both short of strikers and bereft of any possibility of Plan B
What changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
To improve the squad we need to defend like Burnley. Far too often we were a soft touch against physically stronger sides, conceding far too many heavy defeats. If we cannot match sides like Burnley, Bournemouth, Watford and Crystal Palace physically we will be in trouble. We also need to be able to compete in the air. We never look remotely like scoring from corners (the opposition are more likely to break quickly and score than we are) but we always look likely to concede from them. So a couple of Huths would not go amiss!
A number of players went out on loan last season, are there any of those players you would like to see involved in our first team squad for next season?
Not sure any of the players who were out on loan will have a future at the King Power though Barnes is young enough to improve further and has a good left foot. Elder at Wigan might also be a replacement in time for Fuchs whose last season this will be. I would like to see Mendy back if his heart is in it but the others will move on
If you had a chance for a word in the owners ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?
As for new signings we need physicality and aerial power. I would spend the Mahrez money on Zaha if he could be persuaded. Evans would be a step in the right direction (editors note: article writtem before his signing was confirmed) or perhaps Mawson. Midfield needs strengthening and we need to stop using two defensively weak wide players who have left us desperately outnumbered and out-fought at times in the centre of the park and play a 3-5-2 (or 3-5-1-1) basic system instead of 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1). Finally we need a big mobile striker who can assist Vardy and give us a Plan B
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