End Of Season Review 2019-20 Part Two

Graham Tracey is the second of our match reporting team in this series of articles giving their opinions on last season as well as looking ahead…..

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

Certainly top half, push for a European place but as always for me try and win a cup.

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

I can only give it 7/10. This may sound harsh given the achievement in terms of our history, which I have supported through 40 years, but it is about momentum. Obviously we can’t go on 8 game winning streaks every season and we over-achieved until Christmas, but I am concerned at how the management seem to feel that averaging just over a point a game across over half a season is acceptable. The manner of exit in both cups was also very hard to take and left huge regrets.

Overall how do you rate Brendan Rodgers performance?

I like his long-term vision and without seeing behind the scenes I think he is a decent man manager. I think Maddison signing a new contract is testament to this. However, I think he can improve considerably and I expect he believes that too. When we play badly, we look less likely to score than any team in the league. Maybe Brendan is suffering from managing Celtic where every game was basically the same in that you could win without breaking sweat or tactical adjustments. Clearly our record against big clubs has to improve if he is going to create a legacy here.

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?

I am full of admiration for the likes of Jamie and Kasper who have stayed on with us after the title season. Ricardo and Soyuncu obviously stand out, before Cags and Evans seemed to self-destruct in the closing games.

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

Praet is highly competent and a mark of our standing that someone wants to come to us from Sampdoria. James Justin did really well given he could not have expected such an extended run, and Luke Thomas had a fantastic taste. In contrast, Ryan Bennett was a signing befitting the Peter Taylor era – thankfully we didn’t trigger the £5m clause.

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

I have to go for Iheanacho. After the late miss at Man City at the end of last season that would have altered the title in Liverpool’s favour, I could not see him playing for us again. But to come in from the cold with such confidence, skill and intelligence was remarkable. I think we need to work towards a permanent two striker solution with him and Vards.

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

I am reluctant to choose a victim of their initial success but I have to pick Tielemans. I am sure he will improve and a first full season in England is tough physically. I often felt we were better with only one of Madders and Tielemans in the team which seems counter-intuitive and a difficult conundrum to solve.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

The biggest away win in top flight history is a real ‘tell your grandkids’ story and so that’s how I want to remember the season rather than the anti-climaxes. But in the empty stadium era, thinking back to being in such joyous atmosphere as Arsenal at home and Everton away in the league cup almost bring tears to the eyes.

VAR – how do you feel about its effectiveness last season and what would you change?

Like the Trump presidency, worse that my worst nightmares. I have not heard a single fan, player, manager or ex-player pundit support it. So many games ruined by ridiculous decisions – one week I was embarrassed to get a draw at Wolves given their disallowed goal, the next we were cheated by a stupid handlball decision disallowing our goal. The only advocates of it are a group of low quality pundits who see it as something that can help them keep stealing a living from pontificating about.

Look no further than Jonathan Pearce, who introduced a phone-in on 5 Live when VAR was confirmed with “I don’t want to hear any negative comments about it, it’s coming in so get used to it”. The sort of guy who would say “fans like bad decisions because it gives them something to argue about”. We really don’t. I would abolish the accidental handball rule, bring in clear daylight for offsides, and sack the entire VAR officials team and replace them with ex-players.

Moving onto next season

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

An extra striker – unlike Rodgers I would like a target man option.

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

Some more experience (see below) as if we can keep this squad together there is plenty of potential to improve.

Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them?

Someone like Iborra or Cambiasso would have helped us nail down the top four post-lockdown I suspect. So another wise head would be useful, but in general I love seeing the likes of Barnes, Justin, Choudhury, Thomas etc. I would never sign someone who couldn’t roughly pinpoint Leicester on a map before their agent told them it was an option.

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

Troy Deeney and Reuben Loftus-Cheek.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

Unfortunately I think it will be harder next season. The clubs below Liverpool and Man City are strengthening and even if we keep hold of everyone there is the danger of a hangover, especially if we remain over-dependent on JV for goals. On the positive side, the new training ground may be something that gives us an edge. For once let’s get knocked out of cups with no regrets if we can’t go all the way. On a wider note I’m sure we all fear we may not see a game in person next season.

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 happily trade mid-table for cup glory. In particular, let’s give the Europa League everything. I live in Bolton and about 15 years ago they were in I think the last 16 of the UEFA Cup and then basically forfeited the tie by playing a weakened team because of their next league game (which they lost anyway). They’ll never get that back. Seize the day.

Any other observation you would like to make

I am very disappointed by ongoing criticism of our players by our fans, namely Chilwell and Gray. We have a home grown England international and yet that doesn’t seem enough for some people. Likewise it was no coincidence that Gray put together a good run post-lockdown without the negativity of the crowd behind him. I do think there is something in the theory that some people are quick to ignorantly label black players as somehow lazy. There seems a mismatch in fans’ feelings towards the similarly productive and exciting but inconsistent Harvey Barnes.

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 2019-20 Part One

We thought we would wait a week or so from the end of the season before asking our match reporters for their thoughts…so Kate Thompson kicks off the series of articles with her thoughts…

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

Higher in the table than last year and possibly the Europa League; but, above all, to give the FA Cup a really good go

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

I would say 7 out of 10.  Yes, I would have taken 5th and the cup results before the season started, but the amazing success up to Christmas made me realise what we could achieve.  Sadly, they fell away badly in the second half of the season and were lucky to get the Europa League in the end

Overall how do you rate Brendan Rodgers performance?

I’m reasonably satisfied.  His management skills seem to be good but I have been a bit worried about his lack of a back-up plan on occasions.  I get the impression that he is quite stubborn, but I hope he is listening to his assistants whose views he respects

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?

Overall, yes, but if Pereira had played a full season I think he would have run Vardy close

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

Perez flattered to deceive although he is clearly a talented player.  I like what I have seen of Justin and think he has a bright future.  Similarly I like Praet although he suffered from the general malaise once the season had resumed.  Although Soyuncu was not a new signing, he burst on the season to replace Maguire, and some rashness apart, was impressive

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

Harvey Barnes showed what a good player he can be although, like others, his consistency leaves a lot to be desired.  And, as already mentioned, Soyuncu is the stand-out player in this respect

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

Yet again, Demerai Gray; he is clearly talented but he drifts in and out of games.  I don’t understand how he can be so good off the bench but ineffective when he starts games (apart from West Ham away when he was good).  I have been so disappointed that Tielemans has not continued his excellent form as a loan player although he showed in flashes why is still the highest transfer

What was your personal highlight of the season?

How can I look beyond the 9-0 drubbing of Southampton, even though I wasn’t there!  Other good matches were Crystal Palace and Aston Villa, both away

Celebrating the first of the nine goals

VAR – how do you feel about its effectiveness last season and what would you change?

It is incredibly frustrating and for the life of me I don’t understand why the referees do not use the pitchside monitors more.  On the odd occasions when they did, they made a very quick decision

Moving onto next season

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

Another striker

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

We need another attacking midfielder and a new wide man

Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them?

If we can get experience without paying a king’s ransom, I think this would be beneficial but the youngsters have not disgraced themselves, eg Thomas at the end of the season

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

As usual, I haven’t a clue, although I like the look of the Portuguese boy we are supposed to be interested in

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

I would like to think that we will build on this season- to be honest, anything less would be a severe disappointment.  And, as every year, I hope we can at last win the FA Cup!

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 guess it has to be the League Cup

Any other observation you would like to make

I just wonder when I will be back at the KPS!

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

The Foxes Trust Premier League

The FTPL predictor game came to an exciting climax at the end of Week 38 fixtures as Ultrafox came from third place to snatch the title. Going into the last round of fixtures, Ultrafox trailed the leader Werdy by 40 points and second place Random Dodgers by 20 points. But the winner overturned that deficit to win by 10 points scoring a final day 85 as Werdy scored 35 and Dodgers -30.

The participants that achieved European Qualification

What would have been interesting to see would have been the change in league positions as they fluctuated throughout the final round of matches as the goals went in: a ‘SKY Sports’ type update, sorry, I am getting carried away.

Ultrafox finished nationally in 982nd position out of 36051 players and 6th out of all the declared Leicester fans – I am keen to say I am no nerd wading through endless data, you can look it up easily on the Iknowthescore website. The national winner, Steponthefabregas, scored 2670 points, winning by an impressive 75 points.

As a League, FTPL finished a credible 47th out of 2302 mini-leagues with a total score of 14570 points: Barcelona99 came 1st by 15 points with a score of 16285.

FTPL started the season with 46 players and about 33 resilient ones were still active to the final fixtures. Some of those who stopped predicting did so early as they either performed badly or lost interest; a few more did not continue after lockdown as the fixtures resumed in June.

To all who took part a big ‘Thank You’, congratulations to Ultrafox, and please keep in touch with foxestrust.co.uk to see when we launch next season’s League ahead of the EPL start. That should only be about 6 weeks away as the 2020/21 Season is due to start on September 12th so, please enjoy the summer and hopefully you will join us again.

Leicester City Fan and Born after 1994 ?

The Foxes Trust has been contacted by a student who is currently working with Loughborough University and a number of Premier League football clubs to investigate how the football stadium experience can be improved for fans.

The focus of this research is to investigate how the football stadium experience will need to evolve in order to attract and retain Gen Z fans.

By participating in this study, you will contribute towards the academic body of work on this subject and help provide an insight to clubs on how football stadiums can be improved to enhance the fan experience. 

The research is being collected in association with Loughborough University and will be used as part of a master’s dissertation project. 

Eligiblity

To participant in this study, you must be aged 18 or over. You should also be a football fan who attends live matches and be born after the 1st January 1995.

Survey Length and Deadline

Completion of the survey should take approximately 10 minutes. Responses will be accepted until 23.59 on Friday 31 July 2020 (extended deadline)

For more details and to take part click here

A Bridge Too Far for City

Leicester City 0-Manchester United 2

Match Report by Chris Griffin

And so the Champions League ambitions fell away. The final score line is harsh. City played well but like so often since the restart lacked the clinical precision needed to turn half chances into goals. In truth, entry to the Champions League should not have come down to this game. Dropped points that pepper the last third of the season are what tripped us up.

From the team at Tottenham Albrighton, Choudhury and Iheanacho came in. Both teams were cautious in the opening ten minutes. Pogba managed to set Martial free in the box but he was offside. Vardy made a good wing break but his cross was easily dealt with. Thomas headed clear a Fernandes corner. Iheanacho went down in the United area but referee Atkinson waved play on.

United were having more possession and were more successful winning knock downs and second balls. Even so Maguire had to resort to a scissors kick challenge on Iheanacho which saw the former Leicester man receive a yellow card. Leicester relied on countering and after good work by Iheanacho, Tielemans fed Ndidi but Wilf sent his fierce shot over the bar.

United were getting some joy from carefully weighted passes through and over the City defence especially from Rashford. But Justin in particular held firm on several occasions. Iheanacho looked a threat especially receiving the ball with back to goal and then turning and running at United’s defenders. After one such run his shot was parried by De Gea. Vardy got to the rebound but was ruled offside.

After the drinks break Leicester continued to make errors in their own defensive third giving United opportunities to attack. Martial put the ball in the net after one such error but was clearly offside. But City had their moments including a brilliant move which saw Iheanacho feed the ball to Thomas. His cross from the left was reached by Vardy but under pressure he sent the ball wide.

The first half finished with United doing the pressing. A Pogba pass set Rashford free but he could not keep his shot down. Then following a corner the ball fell to Rashford who lashed in a goal bound shot that was well saved by Schmeichel at his near post.

There was penalty area action at both ends at the start of the second half. Justin was very quick to dispossess Martial as the striker prepared to shoot. At the other end a neat one-two between Iheanacho and Albrighton led to a City corner but the follow up kick came to nothing. Perhaps surprisingly to some Iheanacho was replaced by Perez in 58th minute.

Perez was soon in the action winning a free kick outside the United area. Vardy back-headed Tielemans’ freekick against the angle of post and crossbar with De Gea rooted. Then a Tielemans effort was blocked after a good pass from the impressive Thomas.

Since half time the game had become pretty equal but events were about to turn. Leicester played the ball out of the penalty area but Choudhury, just outside the box, was robbed by Greenwood who played a good ball into the area for Martial. The striker was tackled from behind by Evans who despite getting a touch on the ball was penalised and yellow carded. Referee Atkinson did not hesitate to give the penalty – United’s 14th of the season – and Fernandes stroked the ball into the net from the spot.

City made three substitutions immediately, bringing on Gray, Barnes and Praet for Tielemans, Albrighton and Choudhury. City’s impetus increased and after Gray found Barnes in the box the ball fell to Vardy but his shot on the turn lacked power. United brought on Lingard for Greenwood but City kept pressing. One ball from Thomas fell for Morgan in the United box but the City defender completely miskicked.

Then Gray cut in and his firm shot was deflected by Maguire but the referee missed the deflection so no corner. Then Maguire clattered into Vardy from behind on the edge of the United D. He was penalised but no second yellow card was forthcoming. Gray’s free kick was headed for a corner off the wall.

United brought on McTomminay and City brought on Hirst for Thomas. Hirst jumped well to head a Schmeichel free kick but the header lacked power and De Gea caught it comfortably.

As the game went into over time more incidents awaited. Firstly Evans overstretched in the tackle and caught McTomminay late. Evans barely waited for the referee’s straight red card before leaving the pitch. Then Schmeichel in the dying seconds of the game tried to dribble past Lingard in front of goal. He lost possession and the United player had the easiest job to roll the ball into the empty net.

So Europa Cup it is. Back in August many City fans would have settled for that. Obviously the squad needs more depth. That will be even more important when the Europa competition starts. But we should not forget some of the great moments this City team gave us earlier in the season.

Line ups

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Justin, Morgan, Evans, Thomas, Albrighton, Ndidi, Choudhury, Tielemans, Iheanacho, Vardy. Subs: Gray, Ward, Barnes, Perez, James, Mendy, Praet, Bennett, Hirst

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelöf, Williams, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Martial, Rashford. Subs: Bailly, Mata, Lingard, Fred, Romero, Fosu-Mensha, Ighalo, McTomminay.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

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