Completing our series of articles from our match reporting team, Stuart Dawkins provides his thoughts on last season and start planning for the next.
Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve?
I thought that a European qualifying position and a decent cup run were achievable. I continued to believe that until the away match at Burnley.
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?
At best a 6. Part of me says that, from a historical perspective, a top-ten finish is not bad. However, we have been spoiled by our European experience and want more!
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?
Yes, I think Maguire was the best player. Vardy continues to be effective, Ndidi looks solid and both Iborra and Silva look as though they could grow into the Premier League.
What were your views on the signings made during last season?
I do not understand the Jakupovic signing. To buy him and put him behind Hamer on the bench was odd, notably as Schmeichel had some fairly poor games towards the end of the season. It is a shame that Silva did not have longer to settle into the Premier League. He looks skilful and confident, but the proverbial ‘pace’ of the PL seems still to catch him out from time to time. Iheanacho got better as the season progressed, and by the end was linking up well with Vardy. Diabaté certainly provides dynamism in a game! I would also buy Dragovic on a permanent deal. He is head and shoulders better than Morgan at the moment, and a calm, experienced international.
Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?
Probably Chilwell, although he is still prone to a few defensive mis-judgements. Maguire has also gone on to become a player of international standard.
Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?
Mahrez only looked like himself in a handful of games, mostly against better teams. That is partly explained by lower teams ‘trebling up’ on him on occasion. Gray is not maturing into the player he ought to be. He is clearly one of the most skilful players in the team (indeed, the PL), but his decision-making often not progressed from that of an up-and-coming youngster. He is no longer an up-and-coming youngster.
What was your personal highlight of the season?
Seeing Vardy’s goal from the back of the away end at West Brom and saying to my girlfriend “I’m not sure but I think that was probably brilliant – a bit tricky to tell from this distance”. Also, as an end of season carnival the Spurs game was great fun – but I’m glad neither side had anything to play for as the emotional toll would have been too high!
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?
Yes, but only just. The final couple of games suggest that the team can pull together under his leadership. However, the team needs a plan for when ‘lesser’ teams defend deeply – at no time this season has Puel suggested he has one. Indeed, some of his substitutions have been bizarre and decisions like loaning out both big strikers look odd. I would not want ‘lumping it up to the big man’ to be City’s main strategy, but it can have a role when a goal is needed at the end of the game. There is also more resolve needed to close out games against the ‘bigger’ clubs. City played well against Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool – but got almost nothing from those matches.
What changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
As I’ve written this article later than I should, we already have Evans, Pereira and seemingly Maddison. They all seem good buys to me. We probably need another centre back (I would go for Dragovic if he is available). Also, if Jakupovic is not a PL keeper then we need another goal-keeper too. He looked OK deputising for Schmeichel at the end of the season, though.
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?
I would happily have Ulloa in the squad as he has been a consistently useful substitute. I could understand if he wants regular football that he would not want to stay. It is a shame that Musa did not fit in, as I think he is talented.
If you had a chance for a word in the owners ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?
Any other observation you would like to make
My hopes for next season are similar to my hopes for this last one: European qualification and a decent cup run. Is that reasonable? Who knows. The league winning season has spoiled us a bit: before that happened, we didn’t know any better!
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