After a small break, we return to our series of articles where our match reporters give their thoughts on last season and also look ahead, today it’s the thoughts of Paul Weston
Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve?
I was optimistically hoping for a top 6 finish and getting to the FA Cup Final.
Given how the season panned out, in terms of success how do you rate it out of 10 and why?
I would give it 7.5 out of 10. It is hard to forget the post-Christmas downturn in form and which continued after the lockdown period. A pity that this tended to colour the fantastic start to the season.
Overall how do you rate Brendan Rodgers performance?
Pretty good. I would give it 8 out of 10. He usually got the team formation and tactics right. He also communicated positively with the fans which is a huge contrast to Puel. In the latter matches he was hamstrung by the lack of good substitute options. Occasionally he got it wrong- the substitution of Icheanacho in the Bournemouth debacle was a disaster and played into the hands of the opposition.
Jamie Vardy won the Player of the Year Awards, would he have been your choice and who else do you think deserves praise for their performances?
If Ricardo had continued his form and not been injured he would have been my choice. He is the type of player that gets you off your seat and rarely fails to excite. Evans also was superb in the centre of defence until the last few matches.
However, Jamie Vardy just edges it for me. He could have had even more goals if the midfield supply line had not dried up in the latter games. He also has become a creator of goals- if only his colleagues were as deadly as him in front of goal.
What were your views on the signings made during last season?
Tieleman’s form dropped off as the season progressed. Perez was occasionally lethal but inconsistent and lightweight. Praet never let anyone down but did not assert himself on games. Justin came on leaps and bounds. He played lots more games than he expected. Yes he made some errors and his crosses sometimes were poor. However, considering he had made the leap from Luton he is a real star for the future.
Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?
I think for me it has to be Soyuncu. He made the position his own and became a crowd favourite. Maguire was not missed AND we pocketed £80 million. That’s good business!
Icheanacho has really worked hard to improve and in many games has had a positive impact as a second attacker with Vardy. The fans have responded positively which is good to see.
Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?
I think it is a tie between Perez and Gray. Perez has the technical skills but is so easily outmuscled off the ball. I am not sure where his best position is. Gray continues to be an enigma. Occasionally he plays well as a sub and then, when he starts the following game, he fails miserably. Too often he drifts inside and plays safe instead of attacking the full back. One wonders if he will ever make the step up.
What was your personal highlight of the season?
How could it not be the 9-0 thrashing of Southampton. I still remember Whatsapp messages pinging constantly on my phone as the goals rattled in.
VAR – how do you feel about its effectiveness last season and what would you change? Communication with the fans in the stadium has to be improved. Also the referee must always consult the pitchside video and be the one making the final decision- not someone remote from the match. There is a danger that the referee could abdicate making a decision because the VAR official will over-rule.
Moving onto next season
If you had to choose one position where we needed to strengthen, what would it be?
Central defence. Lack of options at the end of the season cost us dearly.
What other changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
We also need a goal scoring winger and bring in a successor for Vardy- not easy but it has to happen next season.
Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them?
We have to be realistic. Our finances will never match the so called “Big Four” but by developing young players that see a future in Leicester City we have a model that works. * If we sell Chilwell (who is good but not flawless) for £80 million then we can reinvest in new players.
If you had a chance for a word in the owner’s ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?
Firstly I would say thank you for being such fantastic owners and I hope their own business will survive the world wide recession. I am full of admiration for Top and his team who never seem to put a foot wrong in their communication with the fans. We are very fortunate.
I will leave it to the team to select targets to sign. Occasionally we get it wrong (e.g. Slimani, Musa) but our scouting system seems good.
What are your expectations and fears for next season?
I hope for a top 6 league position and a good run in the Europa League. I fear that our poor form from last season will continue and that we will start badly, especially with Evans banned for three games and Ricardo still out for a while.
My main fear though is that, unless a vaccine magically appears. I just cannot see when I can be at the King Power cheering on my team in the foreseeable future. Oh how I miss live football…
With the Europa League, Premier League and 2 Cup competitions, along with a condensed season, what would you give priority to and what would you be prepared to sacrifice?
I would prioritise the Premiership and Europa League. Play the B team in the other games.
Any other observation you would like to make
There is not much time before the season starts again. We need to make any signings early so that we can bed in new players before the season starts. If we cannot develop the squad then I fear that next season could be a disappointment.
One last comment. We probably will have one more season of James Maddison before he moves on. There is still more potential for improvement if he continues to work at his game.
*This article was written before Ben Chilwell’s transfer to Chelsea
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