FOXES DISPLAY FALLS FLAT IN BURTON

Burton 0 City 0 – Burton win on penalties 3 – 1

Report by Colin Hall

City Fans at a previous pre season friendly in 2017
City Fans at a previous pre season friendly at Burton in 2017

In a distinctly low-key start to the preseason campaign, FA Cup holders Leicester City were held to a 0-0 draw at League 1 side Burton.

Despite the absence of eleven members of the first-team squad, Brendan Rodgers was still able to field two full sides which played a half each.

However, just two weeks before the showpiece Community Shield clash with Premier League champions Manchester City, the lack of leadership and creativity on display will be a concern, even allowing for the understandable rustiness of players returning from summer breaks.

Facing competitive and spirited hosts with three pre-season games already under their belts, City managed just a single effort on target, when Jamie Vardy’s close range shot was blocked by home keeper Garratt just after the break.

At the other end, although occasionally troubled by setpieces – an issue that cost the Foxes so dearly in last season’s league run-in – the defence held firm and restricted the Brewers to few clear-cut chances.

The match gave the Blue Army the first opportunity to see the three main summer signings in action. Their impact on the game was somewhat varied.

Midfielder Boubakary Soumare was the most impressive, looking strong and composed in possession and giving glimpses of the quality which made him such a key component in Lille’s French title-winning team. Whether he will be a complement to or a replacement for Wilfred Ndidi remains to be seen.

But striker Patson Daka looked rather less comfortable as a lone striker facing experienced, tight-marking central defenders, though the lack of service from either wide players or midfielders gave him few opportunities to shine. He will hope for further opportunities to show his true quality in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile Ryan Bertrand, the other member of the incoming trio, gave a solid if unspectacular display at left-back, although he occasionally looked more comfortable in the opposing half than his own.

Elsewhere in the side, South African winger Tawanda Maswanhise caught the eye in the early stages, particularly with a long-range drive which flew just over the Burton goal. There was also a glimpse of long-time loanees Rachid Ghezzal and Filip Benkovic, though Ghezzal gave little indication that his return to the City ranks will be more than a fleeting one. In addition, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall showed useful touches in midfield, though his delivery of setpieces still needs attention.

Despite a number of stoppages, in the first half for an injury to James Maddison (which fortunately proved not to be serious) and in the second for a number of home substitutions, referee Mike Dean refused to allow a second of additional time in either half to be played. Otherwise, however, the long-serving Premier League official kept his ego under control, to the clear relief of both sets of supporters.

A penalty shootout (won 3-1 by the home side) took place after the game to determine the winners of the Bass Charity Vase. While this honour may not be as prestigious as some that City may compete for in the forthcoming season, nevertheless the attitude of the City players who missed (Luke Thomas, Kelechi Iheanacho and Thai youngster Thanawat Suengchitthawon) appeared slightly disrespectful to the 1600+ City fans who made the journey to the Pirelli Stadium.

Apart from a moronic few who booed the players before the game for taking a knee, the travelling fans gave good vocal support to the side and deserved a better outcome.

But on this evidence, the eventual destiny of the coming season may lie more in the work undertaken at City’s plush new Seagrave training complex during the weeks ahead than the results in this series of warm-up fixtures.

Leicester (1st half, 4-2-3-1): Jakupovic; Ricardo, Fofana, Soyuncu, Bertrand; Choudhury, Soumare; Ghezzal, Maddison, Maswanhise; Daka.

(2nd half, 4-4-2): Iversen, Daley-Campbell, Amartey, Benkovic, Thomas; Sowah. Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall, Suengchitthawon; Iheanacho, Vardy.

Penalty scored: Dewsbury-Hall

Penalties missed: Suengchitthawon, Thomas, Iheanacho

Referee: Mike Dean Attendance: 3 925

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

End Of Season Review 2020-21 Part Eight

We have just received a late contribution from Colin Hall, so here are his thoughts to complete the series of articles from our match reporting team

Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve?

I hoped that we could remain competitive during the season and have a real go at the FA Cup. Both of these boxes were comprehensively ticked!

Going into the final weeks of the season what was more important to you, winning the FA Cup or qualifying for the Champions League?

Ideally, I’d like to have seen our top four status secured before we went to Wembley. The opportunity was there, sadly the mentality within the squad was not. Players don’t get too many chances in their careers to play in cup finals, so were understandably fearful of picking up injuries. Thus we dropped crucial points in games that should have been won.

The players made their priority clear and we had to live with that, although it may now be some time before we next earn a chance to play among Europe’s elite.

Given how the season panned out, in terms of success how do you rate it out of 10 and why?

I’d say 8, which may seem harsh to some given that we won a trophy and finished in the top five. But seeing the golden ticket of Champions League football slip through our fingers in the closing games, for the second season running, was a real disappointment, as it will have an impact on the future development of the club.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

It was a privilege and honour to be at Wembley to see us win our first-ever FA Cup. Given the pain suffered in that competition over the decades, especially at the hands of Chelsea, it was particularly sweet that they were the team we beat to clinch the trophy.

The only regrets were the impact on our league form and the fact that circumstances restricted the number of fans who were able to witness the victory in person.

But all who were there – players and fans alike – did the club and the late Khun Vichai proud.

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?

The honours were no more than Youri deserved, He managed to stay fit, which was no mean achievement in itself, but he also acquitted himself well against the best the league had to offer. In addition, he contributed a number of crucial goals, including the winner at Wembley.

James Justin and Harvey Barnes also made significant progress during the season before suffering serious injuries. Both would otherwise have been serious contenders for the England squad this summer.

Meanwhile, Luke Thomas helped to fill the void left by Ben Chilwell’s departure. He did both himself and the club academy proud.

What were your views on the signings made during last season?

Timothy Castagne settled down very quickly with some impressive displays in the opening weeks, although he was one of several players whose season was disrupted with injuries.

Wesley Fofana arrived for a big fee, particularly given his youth, but he acquitted himself well and played an important role in the cup run. If he stays fit, he could be a rock in central defence for many years to come.

Cengiz Under, though, failed to build on the promise he showed in some of his early appearances. He proved not to be the upgrade on Demarai Gray that the fans had hoped for and it was little surprise that the option to buy him was not exercised.

Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?

Kelechi Iheanacho scored some crucial goals during the Europa League group stages, but it wasn’t until the second half of the season that he finally started to fulfil his potential on a regular basis. The last minute winner against Brighton proved a real turning point for him. In the remaining months, his record of goals and assists was among the best in the league. The task for him now is to ensure he can continue at that level in future campaigns.

Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?

Ayoze Perez played in a variety of positions and didn’t entirely impress in any of them. At the moment, he seems to be a jack of many trades and master of none. He has yet to prove that he can perform at the level to which we aspire, and if another Premier club makes a reasonable bid for him, it should be given due consideration.

There were also a number of players who didn’t get the game time we might have expected towards the end of the season. Whether this is due to the manager losing faith in their ability to perform at the standard we need will become clearer in the coming weeks.

In a season of many injuries, which player’s injury do you think had the most detrimental effect on our season ?

All the injuries had an adverse impact, but that suffered by Jonny Evans in the closing weeks was the one most keenly felt. Had he been available in the run-in, I have no doubt we’d have been able to stay in the top four.

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?

It continues to have the power to irritate, because it is not always operated on a consistent basis, but the main issue is with many of the current crop of officials, whose limitations won’t be overcome no matter how much technology is at their disposal.

Moving onto next season

If you had to choose one position where we needed to strengthen, what would it be?

We needed extra options in attack, and it is to be hoped that the arrival of Patson Daka will address this.

What other changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?

Given the departure of Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan, plus the current injuries to Justin and Castagne, more cover in defence is needed.

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 current balance between youth and experience has worked reasonably well in recent seasons, should be maintained as far as possible. But the presence of a Walsh/Huth style warrior in defence would not go amiss.

If you had a chance for a word in the owner’s ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?

The record of the scouting team over recent seasons suggests their advice should be heeded. They clearly have far more knowledge than I do about the players available throughout Europe.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

Another top-half finish is well within our grasp, as well as progress in the Europa League beyond the group stage. However, should inconsistent form continue, some key players may be tempted to move elsewhere to advance their careers.

Any other observation you would like to make

The resurfacing of long-dormant racial tensions at the end of last season, and their persistence during and beyond the Euros, is a particularly unwelcome development in the game, especially for a club like ours with such a diverse fan base.

Some fans, at club and national level, seem to want a return to the 1980s when racial abuse was rampant. We cannot and must not allow this to happen. If players and teams wish to take a knee, they should be supported unconditionally.

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

Join the Foxes Trust Prediction League 21-22

We are now launching our 2021/22 Prediction League competition which is open to all LCFC fans.

Have lots have fun on a weekly basis during the season predicting Premier League results.

This is the fourth season Foxes Trust have run a predictor League and the Superbru format is the one that is generally recognised as the best yet, and most popular.

So why not join us for season 2021/2 and test yourself against mostly City fans, ask your family or friends to join and have your own competition within the Foxes Trust Pool

Join Foxes Trust Premier League Predictor league on Superbru! You can find the pool here:

https://www.superbru.com/premierleague_predictor/pool.php?p=12366277

or by downloading the Superbru app and searching for the pool with code: phewapis

End Of Season Review 2020-21 – Part Seven

In the final our series of end of season articles from members who write match reports across the season, Stuart Dawkins gives his views on last season and looks forwards to next.

Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve?

I thought we might have a decent run in the Europa League.  I wasn’t sure whether we could improve on our position in the Premier League, but would have been disappointed had we not kept at least one of the inaccurately named ‘big-six’ out of top six positions.

Going into the final weeks of the season what was more important to you, winning the FA Cup or qualifying for the Champions League?

Until we actually got to the final, I had given little thought to the FA Cup – conditioned by too many years of disappointment for Leicester in that competition.  Once it got to the beginning of Cup Final week, with the two fixtures against Chelsea looming, I did have a bit of a heart-versus-head moment.  I then read a blog (which unfortunately I have now lost) which included a line roughly: “… some people are saying getting to the Champions League is more important for Leicester City than winning the FA Cup.  Those people are wrongs ‘uns”.  That wonderful phrasing brought me to my senses and once I was actually at Wembley it was clear that the FA Cup win was a moment of history for the Club.

Given how the season panned out, in terms of success how do you rate it out of 10 and why?

Tricky question.  Fifth in the League and a historic (for many reasons) FA Cup win suggests anything less than a nine would be harsh.  Given where we were in the league for almost the whole season, to again drop to fifth place at the very end made it feel more like an eight-and-a-half.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

Being at the FA Cup Final.  It was obviously historic for any City fan, but adding to the footballing emotion of it, the feeling of being in a proper crowd after all the months of lockdown was special too.

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?

Tielemans would probably have clinched it for me when he struck the Cup Final goal.  Fofana would be in with a shout – particularly for one so young.  It was a season when many players played consistently well.

What were your views on the signings made during last season?

Fofana and Castagne have both been excellent – indeed the ability of the City scouting and hiring system to find affordable talent year-in and year-out is quite remarkable.

Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?

Barnes, particularly early-mid season.  He moved from being a fringe player to an England-hopeful.  Iheanacho deserves a mention for the persistence and professionalism to turn what was looking like a failed move to Leicester into a goal-scoring season finale.  And Vardy is worth a mention, too.  Even at his free-scoring best, I always rated him as one of the most intelligent crossers of a ball in the Premier League, and his transition into goal-provider has been impressive.

Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?

For most of the season I would have said Perez, although he did put in some decent performances towards the end of the season.  Whilst it is a little harsh, I also thought Maddison faded a lot after his injury (and misdemeanour) absences.  Prior to that he was one of the key players, after it he looked off-the-pace,

In a season of many injuries, which players injury do you think had the most detrimental effect on our season?

Maddison’s injury (and, as above, absences for misdemeanours) had the most immediately visible effect.  The team survived the series of absences at centre-back remarkably well.  I suspect Ricardo’s absence was also important, he is often able to push the team forwards at times when they are sluggish (as well as being a great defender).  His presence in, for example, the draw against ten-man Southampton may well have made the crucial Champions League-qualifying difference.

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 am a fan of VAR.  The powers-that-be have always been clear that getting it completely right will be a five-year journey and they have show willingness to tweak it as things have been found to work well or less well in English football.  I would remove anything ‘special’ about handball in the run-up to a goal (it is either handball or it isn’t; wherever on the field).  I would simplify offside decisions, probably by making it dependent on the players’ feet (although the recent move to using the shoulder rather than the ridiculous ‘t-shirt sleeve’, as used in the Euros, seems a step in the right direction).

If you had to choose one position where we needed to strengthen, what would it be?

We will need a Vardy replacement and we could do with some more cover for the ‘creative midfielder’ role.

What other changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?
See above; further cover at centre back would not go amiss.  More generally, Leicester’s overall squad strength proved to be quite resilient during as injuries took their toll last season.  Next season it would be good to see squad strength that can withstand spells of injury and a run deeper into the Europa League final stages.

Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them?
In recent years, Leicester has been good at finding both experienced players and re-kindling their spark (Evans is a good example) and youth (Fofana and many others).  I think they should continue in that way.

If you had a chance for a word in the owner’s ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?
I rarely have an answer to this question; City’s scouting team are far better at it than I am!

What are your expectations and fears for next season?
Expectations: the Premier League will be tougher but Leicester still getting a European place and maybe a Quarter- or Semi-final in the Europa league.  My fears: a season of mid-table obscurity as other teams get stronger.

Any other observation you would like to make?
Following Leicester City continues to be far more entertaining and eventful than following most other teams and long may that continue.

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

End Of Season Review 2020-21 Part Six

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?

Castagne: excellent.

Fofana: excellent

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