End Of Season Review 2020-21 Part Five

Today Paul Weston provides the fifth 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?

I had not really got over the disappointment and meltdown at the end of the previous season. To be honest I was just glad to see some football again, albeit it was initially so strange to view the matches from afar on the TV with just artificial crowd noise.

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

As soon as the FA Cup became tantalisingly close I realised how important it was to me and, I suspect, most LCFC fans. Champions League I know was financially important but with little chance of actually winning the coveted trophy.

Given how the season panned out, in terms of success how do you rate it out of 10 and why? I would give it 8 out of 10. Considering the amount of injuries we had to key players I think we did remarkably well. What a shame that our home form deserted us when we needed it. Losses against West Ham and Newcastle stand out.

What was your personal highlight of the season? It just has to be the FA Cup final win. I never thought it would mean so much to me and to receive a call after the match from my son in Singapore at 2 a.m. (his time) was memorable.

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? I agree with the awards to Youri. His consistency was amazing and his influence on the other players immense. Before injury I think James Justin’s performances and his adaptability to different formations were outstanding.

What were your views on the signings made during last season? Under was a great disappointment, otherwise all good.

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

It has to be Iheanacho for me. His progress was remarkable. My only worry is that, when playing in front of crowds again (e.g. FA Cup Final) his performance was more nervous, more like the performances of old. He is obviously a confidence player but has become a real asset instead of liability. His improvement has to be one of Rodgers triumphs.

Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why? A tight call between Choudhury and Perez, coloured of course by their stupidity before the West Ham match. I have to say I was also disappointed with Maddison at the end of the season (and also for being part in breaking Covid protocol). He was nothing like the force at the beginning of the season. This may have been down to injuries of course in which case I offer my apologies.

In a season of many injuries, which players injury do you think had the most detrimental effect on our season ? We missed so much threat when Ricardo was injured and, even though he returned, he had nothing like the speed down the wing. I do hope that with a good pre-season behind him he can be back to his old self.

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? After the offside decision against Chilwell in the Cup Final it would churlish to complain. I just wish referees would view the incident more on the monitor before making their own mind up.

Moving onto next season

If you had to choose one position where we needed to strengthen, what would it be? Replacement for Vardy. The two possible candidates in the news look encouraging and Daka’s signing is a good start. I hear that deals for Soumare* and Bertrand are nearing completion. Let’s hope that we can keep hold of Tielemans for another season

*editors note, article written before Soumare signing was confirmed

What other changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad? Central defence as an alternative to Evans who is so influential but injury suspect.

Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them? I think the blend works as it is and would like to see Dewsbury-Hall integrated into the team. Thomas was a revelation on the left last season when he was brought in and it shows there is talent waiting to take a chance if offered.

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

What are your expectations and fears for next season? I fear losing one of our players to one of the so called big 6 is always a possibility but that has to be our business model. I also fear that the Thursday/Sunday routine for the Europa League might stretch our squad unless supplemented.

I expect us to be up there in the top 6 next season and giving the Champions League another go.

Any other observation you would like to make I just want to be able to cheer on the team at a live match again and hope that the Covid restrictions are removed before the start of the season.

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

FSA Survey: How do you feel about returning to grounds in 2021-22?

For many fans the beginning of the 2021-22 season will mark the first time that they have been in a stadium for more than 18 months, and so the Football Supporters Association (FSA) are canvassing opinion on how supporters feel about returning to grounds.

As COVID-19 continues to impact daily life and with details still uncertain ahead of the new season, we are keen to find out from fans whether the pandemic and the changes it has brought has affected their attitudes to returning to football, or will affect their attendance in the season ahead.

We are also seeking views on the safety measures that fans would like to see in place, all of which will provide useful feedback to clubs and leagues.

The survey is open to fans at all levels of the game, and we would appreciate your taking five minutes to let us know your views.

End Of Season Review 2020-21 Part Four

The fourth in our series of end of season articles from members who write match reports across the season. Today Colin Murrant gives his views on last season and looking forwards to next.

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

I thought we would go further in the Europa League and as a result we would probably only finish in the top ten; the exit at the last 32 stage certainly helped us maintain our position in the top 4 of the Premier League right until the end. I thought getting back into the Champions League was a priority and that the Europa League was a probable route. Home Cup competitions was not a priority although FA Cup was the preferable of the two.

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

I was asked this several times before and at the FA Cup Final, my answer was “I want both”, I believe you should always go for every opportunity. For all its prestige, and I am ecstatic that we won the FA Cup, the prize money is very small in comparison to the Champions League.

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

“If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor”. What I mean by this, pre 2015/16 this would have been a 10, but since our EPL title and our experience in the Champion League, the bar and ambitions have been raised. Finishing just outside the CL qualification places for the second-year running is a slight blemish. Having said this, and given the injuries we had, it would be churlish to give last season anything less than a 9.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

It has to be The Cup Final and that special goal: I was right behind the goal at Wembley and the ball was in from the moment it left Youri’s boot. Early in the season, the win at the Ethiad was another highlight for me.

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 definitely; I said in last years End-of-Season review in answer to: Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why? “I think Tielemans, I like him a lot, but he did not exert the influence he had at the end of season 18/19: there is so much more potential with him, hopefully we see it in 20/21”. We did, and in abundance! Almost an ever present, his overall play and consistency were a significant factor in our success, That iconic goal will long live in Cup Final folklore.

Until their injuries I would add James Justin and Harvey Barnes.

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

Timothy Castagne started off well before he was injured, His best performances were certainly on the right and it was unfortunate when he returned that Justin’s injury meant he played more on the left, he looks a quality player. Hopefully his nasty injury playing for Belgium in the Euros will heal before the new season starts.

Wesley Fofana looks a great prospect, at 19 with only a few senior appearances to his name, he was thrown in the deep end as City’s injury list grew. Understandably raw at times, he nonetheless has immense potential.

Cengiz Under was a disappointment, flashes of brilliance but all too often ran into blind alleys when a pass to a better placed team-mate was the easier option – shall always remember him for that cross to Vardy at the Emirates that ended the Arsenal 47 year wait.

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

I am going to say Harvey Barnes although James Justin ran him close, both apparently being looked at by Southgate ahead of the Euros and prior to their injuries. Although Barnes has a lot of talent, I think he lacked aggression in his play in previous seasons. This year I think he worked harder and with it grew in confidence; I would imagine Rodgers was instrumental in this improvement. He was direct in his running and willing to battle, his finishing got back to what he did when on loan at WBA.

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

James Maddison, undoubtedly his injury has not helped him as he was in good form prior to that. I just think how he was ahead of Grealish in the England pecking order and now seems miles away from the Squad. I was hoping the previous season’s Casino incident was something he would learn from but the episode at the alleged Perez Covid rule breaking party seems he didn’t learn too much. ‘It is always about discipline,’ Rodgers has previously said. ‘To be a winner and to compete at the top end of this table, you have to act like a winner and that winning mentality is a certain level of behaviour and a mindset.’ With imminent parenthood, Maddison may heed those words, settle down and become the amazing player and major asset we all know he can be.

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

Difficult to answer, Ricardo has not been anything like his old self, Barnes and Maddison I have both spoken about. I am going with James Justin, I thought he was a rock in an everchanging defensive configuration and the several positions he had to play. He really came on after a somewhat hesitant start defensively, his goal at Fulham underlined his attacking qualities. I think his versatility helped us through our defensive injury woes and we never consistently looked quite as solid without him.

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?

Well, it is better watching VAR on TV as you know immediately when there is a referral, you also see the incident replayed and, for off-side, the lines drawn.

I think the on-field referee being referred to the VAR monitor is an improvement for decisions other than off-side as I believe the referee should make the ultimate decision.

I still think that the handball rule is the biggest problem but that is not a VAR issue, I understand that the rule is being changed again next season.

VAR is here to stay and we can only hope it continues to improve in speed and consistency in decisions but in its present format it will always require subjective opinions for handball, penalties, red card decisions.

One note: I was disappointed that the Chilwell goal in the Cup Final was deemed as Leicester being lucky, it was offside, full stop. Like the millimetre off-side decisions or not, it is the one decision with VAR that is objective.

Moving onto next season

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

Squads always evolve, so there are several positions.

I think a creative midfielder or winger is most important as we suffered without Barnes and Maddison. I think the other injured players we generally have cover for.

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

The squad evolution should include a new striker as Jamie Vardy cannot go on forever and his goal tally beyond penalties was not as good as previous seasons. Iheanacho was brilliant at the end of the season but can he repeat over a full season? Left back is important in the short term until Justin returns and Luke Thomas gains more experience. Centre back cover is crucial if we continue to play a back three, all our centre backs have had long term injuries this season and I think Ndidi playing as cover in that position is detrimental to the midfield.

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

There is so much young talent coming through, Tavares, Dewsbury-Hall (Luton’s POTY), Flynn, Wright (who scored goals at Cheltenham), and Sowah who returns to City from OH Leuven. I think any incoming players will be young but with plenty of senior games under their belt: the possible exception being the left back where the need is temporary.

It looks like we are in the driving seat for Boubakary Soumaré and have signed Patson Daka, both young yet with plenty of gametime; I think young talent City can buy at sensible prices and then develop into top players is the way forward and template for City. With Kasper, Jamie and Wes (retired) at the latter stages of their careers, I think it important that the next generation of leaders starts to emerge.

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

Matheus Pereira from WBA, 11 goals and 6 assists in a relegated team was impressive and he proved he can perform in the EPL. A left footed winger/midfielder, a 24-year-old Brazilian – just what the doctor ordered.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

We are the fifth best team in the EPL, beaten to the top four by the same four teams in each of the last two seasons. I think injuries permitting we can break into the top four, although with the caveat that progress to the later stages of the Europa League may be detrimental to that. I believe we will win The Community Shield in August.

Any other observation you would like to make

I have criticised Brendan Rodgers previously on his tactics, Bournemouth away 2019/20 long lives in the memory. This season I believe he came of age as well, The Cup Final and Manchester City and Leeds away matches in particular where his tactics were spot on. The way he managed depleted squads was excellent, the likes of Arsenal away (when his timing of bringing on Vardy) was typical of many. He rightly dropped Maddison and Perez at WHU which was a major example of his management prowess and strength.

I have some concern about the number of non-contact injuries that City players seem to get, If I recall correctly, Ricardo, Justin, Barnes, Soyuncu, Ndidi, Castange, Praet and Fofana all suffered with long term injuries. All non-contact and all to ligaments, hamstrings etc. Too, many to be coincidental. Add to that Vardy, Evans and Maddison with other non-contact injuries and it’s quite a list. No doubt the Sports Scientists at the Club will be analysing why this happens.

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 Three

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

End Of Season Review 2020-21 Part Two

The second of our series of end of season articles from members who write match reports across the season features Tish Krokosz’s views on last season and looking forwards to next.

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

I thought the poor end to the previous season would carry on and affect City’s start to 2020/21. I thought they would finish 8th, so a repeat of finishing 5th was not so bad.

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

As they had never won the FA Cup, I was very much in favour of City seriously attempting to do so this season. I am sure that the financial benefits would have been higher by qualifying for the Champions League but, on this occasion, the win at Wembley was of greater importance to me.

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

I would give it 8½. I deduct a point for not getting further in the Europa Cup and another point for not ending in the top four. But there is a bonus ½ for winning the FA Cup. However, considering the number of injuries, I think the team did wonderfully.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

Winning the FA Cup – especially against Chelsea!

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?

Yes. He was played more consistently and was able to show his strengths this season. I hope he stays with City and continues to improve.

Until their respective injuries, I think Barnes and Justin were having very good seasons. I hope they recover quickly and do not lose any of the impetus that has accompanied their play this year.

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

Ünder was underwhelming and never really got going.

Castagne was a good buy and can be exciting going forward. He made up for the loss of form of Pereira.

Fofana was another good purchase. He is excellent considering his age but should improve further as he gains more experience.

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

Kelechi Iheanacho. Although he has been with City for a few years, this season has shown that he can come up with the goods when asked. The statistics for goals scored support the view, perhaps, that, given a regular place in the starting eleven, he can increase his tally of goals scored even further.

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

Although he did not get much game time, I would pick Choudhury. He did not seem to have much influence in any of the games that I saw.

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

As there were so many, that is a hard one to answer. The injuries to Maddison and Barnes affected the flair, creativity and excitement that we like to see, but the injuries to the defenders was probably more detrimental in terms of results. The withdrawal of Evans before the Newcastle game had a disastrous effect for the result of that match and the run-in to the end of the season. Ultimately, though, I think it was the sheer volume of injuries rather than individual ones that hurt the most.

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?

Most of the contentious issues regarding VAR are really in respect of the rules of the game rather than the VAR’s interpretation of such rules. If the system can identify obvious errors made by the referee or assistant referee, then it must be better than the previous alternatives. It would have been a travesty if Chilwell’s run at the end of the FA Cup match had gone unpunished with the possibility of City losing to Chelsea.

Moving onto next season

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

If current media reports are to be believed, City should be close to signing an attacker and a midfielder. As the loss of Morgan and Fuchs reduces the defensive numbers, I believe an experienced central defender is required.

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

Someone who has experience of playing against stubborn European opposition would be helpful.

A tall player with presence in the penalty area when defending corners and set pieces would also be helpful. We let in too many goals in this situation.

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

I would like to see some of the younger players make a contribution in the domestic cup matches. Josh Knight, Kamal Sowah and Kiernan Dewsbury- Hall had rave reviews at their respective loan clubs. We have seen the improvement from youngsters like Luke Thomas; let the others have this increased exposure to determine their long-term viability.

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

Not knowing who is available currently, I would not be able to advise him on new players, but I would strongly urge him to ensure that Youri Tielemans agrees to a better contract with City and does not move to Liverpool or Manchester United.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

My expectations are that City will concentrate on doing well in the Europa competition and reach further than they did last season. Consequently, less importance would be placed on the domestic cup matches.

Having suffered with so many injuries last season, my greatest concern would be that they linger on and have a detrimental effect on the next season too. Players who have undergone long periods of illness or injury often find it difficult to regain their previous standards. I think Maddison and Pereira come into this category and have yet to achieve the high levels shown in previous years. It would be a tragedy if Barnes and Justin followed a similar pattern.

Any other observation you would like to make

Whilst Brendan Rodgers has been at City, we have qualified for Europe in successive seasons and we have won the FA Cup. That is a marvellous achievement and thanks should go to him for his contribution. He should also be supported after his obvious refusal to be snatched by Spurs.

I am disappointed that the League has not punished the six “renegade” teams that wanted to form an ESL with a greater penalty.

I know it was not financially viable, but it is a shame that the stadium expansion could not have been completed during a season where there were virtually no fans and therefore no disruption to their view of matches.

City had some magnificent away results during last season. This was not matched by an equally successful home run with too many losses against teams that we know could have been beaten. With fans coming back next season (hopefully), I hope this trend will not continue but will give more success for home fans to see.

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