The sixth in our series of end of season articles from members who write match reports across the season. Today Chris Griffin gives his views on last season and looking forwards to next.
Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve?
Concerned that the falling away at the end of the previous season would adversely affect form and confidence as we headed into the new season. Still hoped for an acceptable finish position but top four or five seemed less likely.
Going into the final weeks of the season what was more important to you, winning the FA Cup or qualifying for the Champions League ?
Suspect I will be in a minority but I could not distinguish between the two. Old enough to have been born the year City lost the Final to Wolves in 1949(!) I recall all too clearly the Wembley defeats of 61, 63 and 69. Nevertheless, it seemed important for the club’s development and ambitions to make it to the CL, especially as it could impact strongly on retention and recruitment of players.
Given how the season panned out, in terms of success how do you rate it out of 10 and why?
8.5/10. Terrific away form and the FA Cup win clearly count for a lot. But offset by disappointing home form and not proceeding further in the Europa League competition.
What was your personal highlight of the season?
Some great away wins (Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal for example) but the prize has to go to that May afternoon in Wembley. Unforgettable. Immediately after the final whistle my phone started pinging with congratulations from friends and family. Some were fellow Foxes but many fans of other teams were delighted a team not regarded as one of the “top six” had triumphed. As one (Birmingham City fan) messaged: “Leicester: the non-elite club who show that sporting dreams can come true. One in the eye for those who want to run professional football as a closed shop.”
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?
For most of the season I had the exceptional Jonny Evans as my choice. But the Tielemans goal at Wembley perhaps clinches it for him. What a cracker:” un coup de canon” as one mainland Europe paper headlined its report. Tielemans is such a high-quality player. A superb athlete with amazing energy levels. He also has the knack to make time for himself as he did for the Cup Final goal.
Hope he is still with us next season.
What were your views on the signings made during last season?
Under: did not cut it consistently. Some great moments – assists at Arsenal and Leeds and a smart goal at Brentford. But no consistent impact.
Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?
Iheanacho. From January he showed he is the player we thought we were buying in August 2017.
Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?
Maddison’s and Pereira’s high quality form was elusive following their returns from injury. Wish them well for next season.
In a season of many injuries, which players injury do you think had the most detrimental effect on our season ?
Evans, Barnes, Maddison and Justin. All top players. Sooner all fit and back the better.
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?
We should acknowledge that VAR has worked to our benefit on occasions during the last two seasons. The issue I have is where does a clear and obvious error end and become replaced by the tightest of tight margin decisions. If an attacker is offside by half the length of a toe nail how does an official missing that constitute a clear and obvious error? Furthermore, how does such a tight margin advantage the attacker and/or disadvantage the defender? FIFA need to redefine what the margins should be in order to make an offside decision that reflects a clear and obvious error criterion.
Moving onto next season
If you had to choose one position where we needed to strengthen, what would it be?
Rhyad Mahrez left in 2018. He played four seasons in the premier league for us. He scored 39 goals and achieved 39 assists. That is a lot of goals to lose. We have failed to replace him. Remedying that a priority in my book. Maybe Berardi? Can we afford him? Will he come to us?
What other changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
Cover for midfield. Looks like club is onto that with the arrival of Soumare. Also a new striker: sorted by arrival of Patson Daka.
If we are playing three at the back frequently we need another centre back. Don’t want to shift Ndidi from midfield because he has to cover an injury in the back three.
Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them?
The squad is not light on experience. The strategy of bringing in younger players blended with well-seasoned professionals seems a winning formula. Be good to see Dewsbury-Hall given more opportunities following an impressive loan season.
If you had a chance for a word in the owner’s ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?
Don’t know enough about players abroad where scouting team will be looking. In the Premier League I noticed Lingard’s excellent form in his loan at West Ham. If he’s available we could do a lot worse.
What are your expectations and fears for next season?
Fear. We lose important members of the current squad. Of course, not too much notice should be given to media/internet gossip but it is a concern to see Tielemans linked with Liverpool and Manchester United, Fofana (after just one year!) with Real Madrid and Maddison with Arsenal.
Positive expectation. Assuming we retain key members of the squad and make the additions the club is pursuing then we could have a very good season both domestically and in the Europa competition.
Hope: maintain the away form and make sure the home form matches it.
Any other observation you would like to make
- Hats off to Brendan Rodgers and his staff for their leadership and coaching of the team.
- Hats off to Top and to Susan Whelan and her board for their visionary leadership of the club on a wide range of fronts and for opposing the “super” league proposals.
- Denis Praet. Quality player. Hope he has more opportunities.
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