Today Graham Tracey provides the third in our series of end of season articles from members who write match reports across the season giving his views on last season and looking forwards to next.
Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve?
My aim is always to win something and I’ve always wanted the FA Cup before anything, although despite our ability it always feels a dream rather than a hope. I thought we could go deep in the Europa Cup. League wise, I expected us to have a hangover from last sesaon’s collapse and the short turnaround and anything near the top six would be decent.
Going into the final weeks of the season what was more important to you, winning the FA Cup or qualifying for the Champions League ?
The FA Cup by a country mile. This is a day many of us will fondly remember at the end of our lives. Champions League would have been more prestigious – important to the players – and lucrative – not important to me – but it would have been hard for us to progress beyond the group stage, unlike the Europa route.
Given how the season panned out, in terms of success how do you rate it out of 10 and why?
9.9 – winning the FA Cup, beating all the big teams, fantastic. Obviously a massive shame about no fans, but I can’t mark the success down for that. The 0.1 deduction is only because of the freak events that denied us 4th – Aguerro’s Panenka penalty miss against Chelsea, Alisson’s header, Perez’s miss at Chelsea, Kasper’s miscued punch.
What was your personal highlight of the season?
Naturally the FA Cup final, but there were several games that would often be ‘once a season’ highlights – Man City and Arsenal away, the Man United quarter final.
Youri Tielemans won the Player of the Year Awards, would he have been your choice and who else do you think deserves praise for their performances?
Youri looks world class but lots of others were outstanding. I would highlight iheanacho, JJ and Fofana especially, as well as Harvey Barnes for adding goals to his game.
What were your views on the signings made during last season?
Castagne – high quality. Fofana – even higher quality and shows that for his faults, Puel can spot talent! Under – will leave with some regrets but I could never see him being a starter. Thanks for setting up the Arsenal win though.
Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?
James Justin and Harvey Barnes could well be at the Euros now without injuries. Fofana and Thomas showed incredible strength of character to make the impacts they did at such young ages.
Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?
Perez looked a little more robust at times, but is still the weakest link. He’s played in England for a long time now, so I’m not sure he can make another step to the point where he regularly influences games. Other under-performers like Madders and Ricardo were not fully fit.
In a season of many injuries, which players injury do you think had the most detrimental effect on our season ?
Naturally the ones later in the season felt like they had the greatest impact. I thought at the time that our season was over when Barnes was stretchered off. Any injury that forced us to move Ndidi to the back four was harmful to our midfield.
VAR – with our view via our armchair for nearly all the games, how do you feel about its effectiveness last season and what would you change?
I hate the way VAR casts a shadow over English football, sucking the life out of it. The Euros have been a breath of fresh air for the way it is used sparingly and quickly.
My suggested change is simple. If an offside cannot be determined on a screen without drawing lines, go with the on field decision. So, in the cup final it was just about clear Chilwell was offside without lines. Goals chalked off because someone was pointing where they want the ball played are a disgrace.
Moving onto next season
If you had to choose one position where we needed to strengthen, what would it be?
Up front. We would still be sunk by a long term injury to Vardy.
What other changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
Mainly just to stay injury free, because if we have a full squad available then we are a force to be reckoned with. Beyond that, it is a case of developing our players further – eg communication so we don’t get caught on the break, confidence to move the ball quicker.
Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them?
Youth is okay with me. We’ve still got Kasper/Vardy/Albrighton and maybe the 3 Belgians will have the swagger than comes from winning the Euros. I’m more than happy when youth players come into the squad – and Dewsbury-Hall would be featuring for me next season.
If you had a chance for a word in the owner’s ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?
I always defer to our recruitment team as they know much more than us – personality as well as ability wise. Tammy Abraham would be fantastic, but if they think Edouard fits the bill then I’m confident they will be right in their judgment. I don’t think we should have too large a squad – it’s tough enough when someone as good as Praet can’t get a game. As always, the challenge is to keep hold of everyone we already have.
What are your expectations and fears for next season?
Keep going into every game thinking we can win it, whoever the opposition. And let’s complete a holy trinity by winning a European trophy.
Any other observation you would like to make
There were some fantastic ‘Spirit of Leicester’ stories around our cup success. It is incredible to think that a local teenager played his first senior game in front of fans in the FA Cup final – and played like a veteran! The story about the lady in her 90s whose late husband would only buy her a ring if we won the cup, and so never did – but then her son did and then the club took the trophy to the care home – was fantastic. It is also a huge compliment to us that we had 3 recent players appear in the Champions League final. I wish them all well – I don’t agree with fans turning on players if they leave.
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