End Of Season Review 2017-18 and Finally

A last minute entry in our series of articles from our match reporting team, Colin Hall 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 hoped that with the investment made during the summer, we'd achieve a significant improvement on the previous campaign, and perhaps do well enough to reach the last four of one of the cup competitions.
While nobody expected us to reach the heights of 2015-16 again any time soon, the FA Cup remains a holy grail for many supporters, and every year brings hope that our wait for the trophy will finally be ended.
I'm not convinced that many of our recent managers, including the current incumbent, have ever really grasped just how much it would mean to us, and the city in general.
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?
No better than a 6, I'm afraid. With all the quality and talent at the club (no fewer than TEN of the squad will be taking part in this summer's World Cup), it was particularly disappointing to fall short of the 50-point mark for the second season running.
Ironically, our points total and final league placing were identical to those achieved in 1996-97 – which is rightly regarded as one of the greatest seasons in our history. Yet while the team of that era exceeded expectations at the time (and of course also brought us silverware), its present-day equivalent fell some distance short.
Whenever we looked like gaining momentum, events seemed to derail us, such as the Silvagate affair, the dire home display against Crystal Palace or Manchester City's half-hearted bid for Riyad Mahrez at the end of January.
Although the cup exits were both to the eventual winners of the respective competitions, we really should have made home advantage count in at least one of those games. But the self-belief that was such a feature in the side two years ago was simply not there – perhaps a consequence of the lack of leadership both on and off the field.
Harry Maguire won the Player of the Year Awards, would he have been your choice and who else do you think deserves praise for their performances?
He has a lot to thank Gareth Southgate for. Given an opportunity in the national side after some solid early-season performances at club level, he performed well in friendlies against high-profile opposition and deserved his place in the World Cup squad.
In more competitive settings, though, Harry's still something of a work in progress. Our defence has gone from the 3rd-strongest in the league in 2016 to the 5th-weakest now, and given that he played every minute of every game – which says a lot about his fitness and discipline – he has to take his share of responsibility for that.
Overall, I felt Wilfred Ndidi showed slightly more consistency during the course of the season, and it came as little surprise to see him also earn national recognition. Although he rarely reached the levels we saw so often from N'Golo Kante, he nevertheless acquitted himself well in a midfield which wasn't always seen at its best. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez also made important contributions to the side, even though neither were quite at the heights they reached in the title-winning season. Many fans of Premier clubs continue to envy them and both will be badly missed when they're gone (which, sadly, in Mahrez's case could be very soon).
What were your views on the signings made during last season?
Eldin Jakupovic didn't make the impact he would have hoped for, spending much of the season as 3rd choice keeper behind Kasper Schmeichel and the now-departed Ben Hamer. He also came perilously close to conceding a last-minute winner at Fleetwood which could have had dire consequences for both him and his manager.
In contrast, Harry Maguire proved, as we've seen, that a move to City can still be career-enhancing. But Kelechi Iheanacho often struggled for confidence and form, and only really lived up to his hefty price tag during the closing games of the season. Like many before him, he found it difficult to settle alongside Vardy, but if he can do so next season, we will have one of the league's better attacks.
Vicente Iborra quickly became a cult figure and was clearly an upgrade on other central midfielders at the club. However, he sometimes struggled to cope with the pace and intensity of this league. Adrien Silva's season was effectively wrecked by circumstances beyond his control, so I'll reserve judgement on him.
Alexandr Dragovic looked solid in central defence, but dressing-room politics restricted his appearances in a City shirt, while although Fousseni Diabate showed pace and promise after his arrival in mid-season, he made limited impact on Premier defences
Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?
I was delighted to see Ndidi continue where he'd left off the previous campaign. He was a mainstay of the midfield and I hope he will continue to be so for years to come. There are still some rough edges to his game, but these should fade away as he continues to mature.
Elsewhere in the squad, Hamza Choudhury was the most impressive of the younger players given opportunities in the side, though the similarities between his game and Ndidi's would make it difficult for them to feature together on a long-term basis.
Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why ?
After impressing so much during the title campaigns and at Champions League level, Kasper Schmeichel was a real disappointment. He often looked uncertain at dealing with setpieces, and his distribution was also a weakness.
Maybe the impending World Cup was a distraction for him, or perhaps his time with goalkeeping coach Mike Stowell has run its course. Whatever the cause, it is to be hoped that both he and the management can sort things out before the start of next season.
Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell were both given plenty of chances by the manager – sometimes when their form didn't really warrant it – but neither seemed entirely convincing for us. How much longer will they be given to deliver on the promise they showed in previous seasons?
What was your personal highlight of the season?
The Arsenal home game was satisfying for many reasons – first of all because we won, ending a particularly wretched series of home performances and results, but also because it signalled the end of the decades-long hoodoo that club under Arsene Wenger had held over us.
It was also good to see fans pay a warm amd respectful tribute to one of the most iconic figures in Premier League history, and to hear him respond in positive fashion towards that.
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'm not convinced this manager can take our club forward. There were too many games when he made errors in both selection and tactical planning, while the slide in form during the closing weeks was highly reminiscent of the problems he had at his previous club.
Of course, this being Leicester City, there will always be a section of the fanbase who will insist our managers can do no wrong, but when I enquired on social media towards the end of the season how many of the squad have actually improved under Puel,.. well, suffice to say, I wasn't exactly inundated with replies. Nevertheless, it appears that the powers-that-be are prepared to give him more time to reshape the squad, so we can only hope that their judgement will be vindicated.
What changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
A replacement for the departing Robert Huth was a clear priority, and it's good to see that the club have already addressed this. But further work needs to be done – in particular the recruitment of a goalkeeper who can cover for, and maybe even succeed – Schmeichel.
In addition, a creative midfielder, who can fill the gap that the departure of Mahrez will leave, is also an urgent requirement. Perhaps the recent acquisition of James Maddison will cover this, but his lack of top-flight experience is a concern.
There is also quite a large amount of deadwood within the squad, whether recent signings who have struggled to adapt, or stalwarts who are approaching the end of their time at Premier level. The management shied away from making some big calls during the season, but it is imperative that they grasp the nettle now to avoid the slumps we witnessed from Stoke, WBA and Southampton.
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?
In general, those players went on loan for a reason – namely that the management at the time felt they didn't quite fit the bill at City. And to be honest, few of them provided evidence to dispel that view. The one possible exception might be Callum Elder, who showed during his time at Wigan (at least in those games on TV) that he may be a contender for the left-back spot.
If you had a chance for a word in the owners ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?
Jonny Evans is exactly the type of defender we need, and his acquisition is a positive statement of intent. If we're looking at a three-man central defence next season, though, as some in the squad are currently suggesting, another signing – maybe Dragovic or Michael Keane – should be considered.
In general, though, the best signings in recent seasons have been ones where the scouting network have operated below the radar. Maybe that's where the focus needs to be in the future.
Any other observation you would like to make
In past years I've spoken about the Checkatrade Trophy and stadium expansion and make no apologies for returning to those topics now.
I still fail to see what benefits entering a competition primarily intended for lower-league clubs brings to City, especially when we've invariably packed our teams with as many overage players as the competition rules allow. Should another invitation be made to the club for the forthcoming season to take part, I hope someone will have sufficient sense to turn it down.
As for the plans to increase capacity, I'm worried the owners may have missed the boat. Empty seats at home games last season were a regular feature for the first time since promotion to the top flight and I fear many in the local community are gravitating back towards the more successful clubs. In these circumstances, spending millions on extra seats when we struggle to fill the ones we already have does not seem a very sensible move.
In addition, having seen the quality of refereeing in the Premier League continue to decline, I'd like to see video assistant referees introduced as soon as possible. Although the system isn't perfect – as we're currently being reminded during the World Cup – it would help to reduce the number of glaring errors that are currently being made.
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