End of Season Review 2019-20 Part Nine

To conclude our series for articles from our match reporting team, Colin Hall gives his views on last season and looks ahead

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

With a number of elite clubs going through transition periods, there was a possibility of one or more of the clubs from the next level breaking through. As long as we could produce a little more consistency, and bring the best out of new recruits, there was definitely a chance for us. I also hoped we could finally put together a decent run in one of the cups.

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

Ultimately it was a season of two halves – 9 for the first and 5 for the second, so 7 overall.

The last three months of 2019 saw us produce our best form since the title season. While a repeat of that miracle was never on – Liverpool were always too far ahead for us to mount a realistic challenge – a Champions League spot was well within our grasp.

To see it slip away from us in the weeks following the restart was especially gut-wrenching. While some might moan about the injuries, the vagaries of VAR and the machinations of the Manchester clubs on and off the field, the reality is we can only blame ourselves for falling short in the end. A return of 9 points from the last 9 games was inexcusable, especially as we had already beaten 8 of the sides we faced during that run in previous encounters.

With the pandemic hitting the economy both here and in Thailand, the money from the Champions League would have been particularly appreciated. But as things stand now, we look likely to lose a number of key players and any prospect of stadium expansion looks increasingly remote.

Overall how do you rate Brendan Rodgers’ performance?

Let’s start with the positives first. Very few City managers have overseen successive top-10 finishes in the top flight, and only his compatriot Martin O’Neill had previously done so in the Premier League era. He also deserves credit for helping to develop several of the younger members of the squad, and for his audacity in taking a virtual shadow team to West Ham and winning there just two days after the hiding by Liverpool. I don’t recall any concerns being voiced then about the lack of depth in the squad.

But the wheels started to come off for him when we lost in the League Cup to Villa. The over-cautious approach he adopted in the first leg – fielding THREE central defenders against a visiting side with no strikers – left us vulnerable in the return, and avoidable defensive errors saw us miss out on a trip to Wembley.

The team’s nerve, which had been an issue on several occasions in previous seasons, started to become so again after that, especially on our travels where we had been so impressive beforehand.

Would an O’Neill in his prime have let the situation slide away from us in the way it did during the closing weeks? I seriously doubt it.

If this manager had plans to move on from City to an elite club in due course, those plans have now been dealt a serious blow. He has a credibility issue, both within a section of our fanbase and in the wider game, which he needs to deal with and resolve very quickly.

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?

It was an incredible achievement for him to win the Golden Boot – the first time any City player has ever topped the scoring charts outright in the top flight – and so it’s no great surprise that many fans backed him.

However that doesn’t quite tell the full story of his season. When he was in the mood and on his game, he was unstoppable, But there were also times, particularly after the turn of the year, where he looked distinctly off the pace and left our attack somewhat limited and one-dimensional.

So my preference was Çaglar Söyüncü, who had a tough challenge in filling the gap left by the departed Maguire, but rose to it magnificently. Apart from a series of impressive displays for City, he also made a breakthrough into a Turkey side which could well cause a few shocks at the Euros when they are eventually happen.

Others in the squad who deserve commendation include Ricardo, who had another solid season until his knee went against Villa, James Maddison, who earned international recognition and showed glimpses of real class, and Wilfred Ndidi, who continued to excel as one of the league’s leading defensive midfielders. Young defender James Justin also did himself proud while earning more game time than either he or the City management might have expected.

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

The tag of City record signing has regularly seemed a curse over the years, and there were times during this season when Youri Tielemans seemed to be another struggling with the burden. But he did show signs of a return to form during the closing weeks.

Ayoze Perez, the other flagship signing, also had a mixed campaign, though he wasn’t helped by often being used as a square peg in a round hole. It may be significant that many of his better games came when Vardy was absent.

As previously noted, James Justin quickly established himself as a dependable member of the squad, while Dennis Praet also adapted quickly to the intensity of Premier League football. However Ryan Bennett looked a little rusty during his few appearances in a City shirt and it was little surprise that his move from Wolves was not made permanent.

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

Söyüncü’s astonishing rise from fringe squad player to become one of the league’s more accomplished defenders makes him the obvious choice here. The influence of Kolo Toure, a distinguished international defender in his day and now part of the City coaching team, is obvious.

He is one of a number of City players who would have done themselves and us proud at Champions League level, and we should cherish every appearance he continues to make in a City shirt.

Harvey Barnes was another player whose improvement was noted during the season. Although he was another whose form fluctuated quite a lot in the run-in, he can be pleased with his overall tally of both goals and assists during his first full season in the top flight.

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

The name of Demarai Gray has come immediately to mind here at the end of the previous two seasons. Sadly, it does so again now. Although successive managers have shown infinite patience with him, once again he promised far more than he delivered. How much more satisfied would we have been had he produced the same level of output that Barnes did?

It would be wrong, though, to hold Gray solely responsible for the team’s ills.

I recently watched a Sky re-run of one of the games from the title season, in which the leadership, character and belief within the team were all on display. The contrast with many of the games we witnessed last season was only too apparent.

There were times when we were struggling in games and needed senior players to step up, only to see them fail to do so. In particular, for all the service he has given to the club, Kasper Schmeichel is unlikely to be remembered for his captaincy skills.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

How many times in our lifetime will we see City win 9-0 – and away from home too? The Southampton game was an occasion when everything we did came off. The only regret I have, in common with many others, is that I wasn’t there to see it in person.

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

I hoped that it would ensure that all clubs were treated fairly and that it would enhance the integrity of the game. Sadly its operation during the first year fell woefully short on both counts. The standards of refereeing has fallen rather than risen.

I could rant at considerable length about the incidents that blighted our season, but most fans will recall them vividly anyway.

In my view, VAR should only be used to overturn clear and obvious errors. If folk in a studio are spending two or three minutes to make a decision, that suggests they have enough doubt to leave well alone.

Managers should also be given a chance to refer incidents to VAR – as happens in American football – especially since we know technology isn’t entirely failproof.

Moving onto next season

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

With Jonny Evans suspended for the first three games of next season, the need for another centre-back is imperative, especially given the extra games in a condensed schedule which will require regular rotation of the squad.

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

Given Ben Chilwell* appears set for an imminent move to Chelsea, another left-back seems likely, although already seem well-covered in that area. The priorities should be another right-sided player, together with another striker to share the workload with existing personnel.

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 management will be only too aware of the need to keep a balance between youth and experience, but the limits on squads imposed by both UEFA and the Premier League mean that homegrown players will be given more opportunities than previously.

Hopefully this will be a time when the club’s investment in academy and training facilities starts to reap rewards.

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

Bournemouth’s David Brooks and Burnley’s James Tarkowski are both players who could add quality and depth to our squad.

I also kept an eye on the progress of Southampton’s Che Adams, who I suggested we should have signed last summer. Although he took a long time to find the net, he continued to put the effort in whenever he appeared and I still reckon he could be an effective understudy to – and potential long-term replacement – for Vardy.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

I very much doubt, given the changes other clubs have made, whether we will make the top six again, especially with European competition likely to prove a distraction for us. I would be concerned if we made a slow start, but the release of next season’s fixture list makes that slightly less likely.

This group of players has enough to keep us clear of trouble, but needs to step up both mentally and physically to do itself justice in some of the more high-profile encounters.

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?

Our priority, as always, is to reach 40 points as soon as possible to ensure we stay in the league for another season. Once that target is met, I’d hope we could have a real crack at the FA Cup, or the Europa League if we’re still in that. If progress in either or both of those competitions costs us a few league positions, so be it.

The manager knows that his legacy, in England at least, will be defined by his trophy count. If further opportunities arise during his time here, he has to make the most of them.

Any other observation you would like to make.

I fear the consequences of the pandemic will mean that the days of regular full houses at the King Power may not return for some time. Many people will have far less money to spend, while others may decide they can cope far better without football, and City in particular, dominating their lives.

The only consolation we can salvage from this is that other clubs will face the same problems. We can only hope that when we emerge from this dark age, we can still be a reasonably competitive force in England’s top league.

*This article was written before Ben Chilwell’s transfer to Chelsea

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 Eight

With just over a week to go before the start of the new season, Colin Murrant continues our series of match reporters views on last season looking at the season ahead

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

Top 6 was a definite chance the way we finished the previous season and with BR having his first transfer window to strengthen the squad. The cup is always a dream and, with BR saying he would take the competitions seriously, a semi-final would be progress.

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

Up to Christmas 10/10, in the second half of the season 4/10, therefore 7 overall. If the two halves of the season were reversed, I guess the sentiment would be different, but the disappointment of the second half leaves a feeling of what might have been in both Cups and CL qualification.

Overall how do you rate Brendan Rodgers performance?

At first impressed, but latterly very disappointed. Not least with the substitutions to a more defensive formation at Bournemouth when we were well on top. There is a stubbornness with BR over not playing certain players, Iheanacho substituted or not brought on and why pay £30m for Perez and then not play him alongside Vardy, his best position.

The defensive formation against Tottenham was a disgrace in my opinion: I said in my match preview about the threat from Spurs pacey attack, and BR did nothing to counter that threat. I also think that Soyuncu and Evans are far more effective when they play left and right side respectively yet, at times, BR chose to reverse them to the detriment of the performances.

Having said all that, I would not advocate changing BR, I hope that he is able to organise and motivate the team to play as brilliantly as they did up to Christmas when they won eight games in a row and were pushing Liverpool for top spot.

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?

For his 23 goal golden boot achievement alone JV was a worthy winner. I think that Soyuncu, Evans and Ricardo were also contenders. Soyuncu for his performances in replacing Maguire, Evans for his steadiness in position and nurturing of Soyuncu, Ricardo for being an exceptional full back.

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

Tielemans has been a shadow of the player he was when on loan although I thought he played better in the post-lockdown games; does he play better when Maddison is not there? Perez, I have spoken about already and needs to be played nearer to Vardy, after all if he can get 12 goals a season with Newcastle he should better that at City.

Praet is a very classy midfielder who has time on the ball and rarely wastes a pass, I think he should have had more game time. Justin’s form was in and out; initially poor after Ricardo injury, I thought his performances improved a lot as his confidence grew with more game time.

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

Unquestionably Soyuncu, he was rough diamond at the beginning of the season but some of those rough edges have been smoothed. He will be disappointed with his escapades at Bournemouth but he is a fan’s favourite as a result of his effort and skills, a real old-school warrior.

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.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

Being at St Mary’s with my grandsons on the night that City scored nine without reply and Vardy and Perez scored hat-tricks: only once before had I seen City have two hat-trick heroes in the same match, Lineker and Lynex versus Carlisle. It mattered not that we got drenched that Friday night in Southampton. I was so worried the Covid Pandemic would curtail the season and that the 9-0 would be eradicated from the record books.

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

I think the hooah over the off-side interpretation is misguided, whether it is a millimetres or not is missing the point. To my mind wherever you draw the line it will always be down to millimetres at the end of the day, the decision is objective so I would say we have to get used to it.

Where I have a problem is the subjective decisions) such as sending off offences, penalties etc) being taken away from the on-field referee. I think if VAR spots an incident then it should be brought to the attention of the referee who should then make his decision at pitch-side from the monitor. I think this might speed the decision up as well rather than the often relentless replaying of action to prove what is meant to be ‘a clear and obvious error’.

Incidentally the thing that annoys me most is the attacker handball decision which is a rule issue not a VAR issue, other than VAR permits closer analysis. How a defender can accidentally handle a ball which then accidentally hits the attacker’s arm (Iheanacho at Norwich) who then scores from 20 yards, and the goal be disallowed is beyond me.

Moving onto next season

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

Difficult to choose one position as we need a central defender, creative midfielder, winger and attacker. I will go for a player that is apparently available, reasonably priced and with Premier League experience; David Brooks from Bournemouth.

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

Greater quality squad depth as we were exposed at the end of the season as injuries and suspensions kicked in; with Europa League squad depth is even more paramount.

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

With Europe in mind I think someone with European experience would be welcome. Overall, I like youth as City have recent success in developing young talent. With Schmeichel, Ricardo, Fuchs, Albrighton, Ndidi, Vardy, Evans, Praet, Perez and Tielemans, we have a lot of players experienced at playing top division football. Depending on whether he is sent out on loan again, I think that Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall might come through the ranks this season.

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

As stated above, David Brooks is a sensibly priced option. I think we might have to pay over the odds for a quality centre back so could not recommend on the basis I do not know the cost; if the price is right, Lewis Dunk.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

Fears are two-fold, firstly we have a carry-over of post-Christmas form, secondly the Europa League takes its toll. Expectations are a long run in the Europa League and a top 10 finish.

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?

Always the PL and this time the Europa League which I think offers our best route into the Champions League. I think the home cups have lost their magic year’s ago, if I sacrificed one it would be the Carabao. Deep down, I would still love to win the FA Cup, but not a priority.

Any other observation you would like to make

I just think we lost an unbelievable chance of progressing in the EPL and Cups by not investing in January. To get Ryan Bennett in on loan and let Filip Benkovic go out on loan when we were short of a quality and quick centre back was beyond comprehension. I think there was almost a sense of we accomplished what we set out to do (top six) and the rhetoric from BR underlined this. Once you look like accomplishing your targets you re-assess, City chose to sit on their laurels: it is to be hoped the lesson is learnt.

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

City Fans Groups Back Call for Live Game Broadcasts

FOXES TRUST PRESS RELEASE

Following a Premier League meeting with the Football Supporters Association (FSA), the FSA’s Premier League Fans Network issued a statement urging the Premier League to come to an agreement to broadcast all games until such time that full stadium attendance is allowed.

Steve Moulds, who represented the Foxes Trust at the meeting said, “Currently we are faced with the ridiculous situation where fans across the world can watch every Premier League game live, but fans who live in the UK and have attended matches for many years cannot”.

The Foxes Trust is at the forefront of this campaign, with fellow City Fans’ Groups the LCFC Supporters Club, Foxes Pride and LCFC Disability Support Association also backing the call.

Sandra Fixter of the LCFC DSA said, “Our supporters are in the most vulnerable group and I have had many phone calls from members who feel unable to attend on health grounds”

Ian Bason, Foxes Trust Chairman added “We must not overlook the mental strain that Covid 19 has had.  For 90 minutes fans can escape the pressures of their lives, releasing that pent up emotion watching football; the value to their mental health should not be underestimated. To deny fans the opportunity to attend games or even watch a live media broadcast, as they could during Project Restart, will have a knock-on effect on mental health.”

Shadow Health Secretary, Jon Ashworth MP, whose constituency includes the King Power Stadium has confirmed to the Foxes Trust that he has written to the Premier League raising this important matter.

The fans’ campaign is not demanding free to air viewing.  Regular match attending fans will be happy to pay a reasonable amount to access games.  City fans are showing their commitment to the Club by paying to retain their Season Ticket or Membership, in return those fans deserve access via media channels for any games they cannot attend.

Bason continued “The reluctance of the Premier League to sit down with the media companies and resolve this issue is baffling. The media companies would gain revenue by providing access, and should certainly not be looking to claw back any payments from the Premier League – that would simply be profiteering on a pandemic”

“The plans directly hit the most loyal fans and that loyalty is being completely disregarded. This is simply not right.  Added to which, those supporters with underlying health issues are being doubly discriminated against – being able neither to attend the matches nor watch on TV.

“Fans have become wearily accustomed to playing second fiddle to the demands of international television audiences, but this announcement caps it all.”

With the season fast approaching, the FSA stated “As a matter of urgency top-flight supporters urge the Premier League to resolve this issue. Do not stop fans watching their teams during a global pandemic. It would be a disastrous decision by the Premier League and they must listen to supporters”.

End Of Season Review 2019-20 Part Seven

As one of our match reporting team, Stuart Dawkins gives his end of the season thoughts and looks forwards to next season…

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

I am a great believer that consistent runs of form towards the end of a season – good or bad – can indicate the following season’s form, so I was optimistic for Leicester.  I really wanted another European Tour and felt that an improved League position was achievable.

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

Pre-Christmas: 9, Christmas-to-lockdown: 6, post-lockdown:3.  Overall average, about 7.

Overall how do you rate Brendan Rodgers performance?

Good.  He has managed to bring together a talented, and generally young, squad who seem to enjoy playing together and who, on their day, can give a decent game to anyone.  After the hesitancies following the 2015-16 season, that is impressive.

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?

Vardy deserves it – winning the Golden Boot is a great achievement in any season.  I think Söyüncü has been an improvement on Maguire as he is quicker and gets caught out of position less often (I would have written “now that he avoids the occasional rush of blood” were it not for that stupid kick-out at Bournemouth).  Ricardo and Ndidi are closely matched as the best player other than Vardy – *each more important to the Club than Chilwell.

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

I was unsure about Perez, but he has added some bite to his game and pretty much always puts in a reliable performance.  Justin looks a very shrewd buy.

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

Tricky one.  I could make a case for Barnes, Ricardo or Söyüncü.  Also, Iheanacho was suddenly transformed from ‘we may never see hm play again’ to ‘decent attacker’ – which I have to admit I did not think would happen.

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

Schmeichel continues to be an enigma to me.  He is capable of being one of the best ‘keepers in the world, and yet from time to time he has games where either his distribution or his positioning simply create problems for City.  To say ‘under-performed’ is perhaps harsh, but I do think some decent competition for the goalkeeper’s shirt would help City.  *Also, Chilwell had a less good season that previously.  I would rather he stayed with City – he is a good player – but he had too many matches where faults crept in for my liking.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

I left St Mary’s in the rain a little bit disappointed that City had ‘only’ scored nine goals.  I knew that the Premier League record win was 9-0 and I had really thought City could have managed ten that night.  Then when we got to our car, we found that it was the biggest away win at the top level of English football ever.  I then though of the literally millions of fans who had gone, through rain or shine, to away matches to watch their team and realised that I had been at (by one measure at least) the ‘best one ever’.  That was the kind of moment that Leicester seem to be able to achieve from time to time.

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

I am in favour of VAR.  I would improve communications in the stadium (assuming fans get back into stadia).  I would take away the ludicrous attacking hand-ball rule – which was only introduced to stop things like the infamous Thierry Henri goal that VAR would stop anyway.  I would base offsides solely on foot position,

I would encourage the on-field referee to use the pitch-side monitor as the ‘norm’ and if the back-room boys are needed then there should be a maximum time beyond which VAR is null-and-void as clearly there is nothing ‘clearly and obviously’ wrong.  The worst thing to do, but which I gather is happening, is to bring in VAR to check goalkeepers’ positions at penalties.  That one rule pretty much spoiled the Women’s World Cup Finals for me when it was trialled a couple of years ago.

Moving onto next season

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

Centre-back.  Evans and Söyüncü are fine, but Morgan is getting a bit long in the tooth as back-up.  Although, to be fair, he did ok each time he was asked to this season.

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

A more reliable foil for Vardy.  The results are still too dependent on his goals.

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 be fine with one chosen experienced player, but other than that I am in favour of the younger squad.

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

This is always the question I find hardest to answer each season.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

As I said at the beginning … I am a great believer that consistent runs of form towards the end of a season – good or bad – can indicate the following season’s form.  This does make me fear for City a bit as replicating the form from the second half of this season would likely result in a relegation tussle.

I’m not sure that I ‘expect’ that, but without solid cover in central defence and another reliable goal-scorer I am worried as to whether City can maintain the ‘Top Ten-plus’ performances of recent seasons.  I am looking forward to the Europa League, though.  Of course, I would have preferred Champions League, but City in Europe is still an ‘event’.

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?

Always prioritise the League.  After that, why not go for the Europa League?  On their day City can beat anybody.  Doing well in either of the two domestic Cups is fun, but I could live without that for a settled place in the top six and a European semi-final or final!

Any other observation you would like to make

Aside from the obvious comments about the impact of Covid-19 … on football and on everything else … this season will stand out in two ways for me.  For a good four months of it, City really were running Liverpool close for a playing style and results befitting ‘the best team in the land’.  And the Southampton win.

*This article was written before Ben Chilwell’s transfer to Chelsea

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 Six

After a small break, we return to our series of articles where our match reporters give their thoughts on last season and also look ahead, today it’s the thoughts of Paul Weston

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

I was optimistically hoping for a top 6 finish and getting to the FA Cup Final.

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

I would give it 7.5 out of 10. It is hard to forget the post-Christmas downturn in form and which continued after the lockdown period. A pity that this tended to colour the fantastic start to the season.

Overall how do you rate Brendan Rodgers performance?

Pretty good. I would give it 8 out of 10. He usually got the team formation and tactics right. He also communicated positively with the fans which is a huge contrast to Puel. In the latter matches he was hamstrung by the lack of good substitute options. Occasionally he got it wrong- the substitution of Icheanacho in the Bournemouth debacle was a disaster and played into the hands of the opposition.

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?

If Ricardo had continued his form and not been injured he would have been my choice. He is the type of player that gets you off your seat and rarely fails to excite. Evans also was superb in the centre of defence until the last few matches.

However, Jamie Vardy just edges it for me. He could have had even more goals if the midfield supply line had not dried up in the latter games. He also has become a creator of goals- if only his colleagues were as deadly as him in front of goal.

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

Tieleman’s form dropped off as the season progressed. Perez was occasionally lethal but inconsistent and lightweight. Praet never let anyone down but did not assert himself on games. Justin came on leaps and bounds. He played lots more games than he expected. Yes he made some errors and his crosses sometimes were poor. However, considering he had made the leap from Luton he is a real star for the future.

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

I think for me it has to be Soyuncu. He made the position his own and became a crowd favourite. Maguire was not missed AND we pocketed £80 million. That’s good business!

Icheanacho has really worked hard to improve and in many games has had a positive impact as a second attacker with Vardy. The fans have responded positively which is good to see.

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

I think it is a tie between Perez and Gray. Perez has the technical skills but is so easily outmuscled off the ball. I am not sure where his best position is. Gray continues to be an enigma. Occasionally he plays well as a sub and then, when he starts the following game, he fails miserably. Too often he drifts inside and plays safe instead of attacking the full back. One wonders if he will ever make the step up.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

How could it not be the 9-0 thrashing of Southampton. I still remember Whatsapp messages pinging constantly on my phone as the goals rattled in.

VAR – how do you feel about its effectiveness last season and what would you change? Communication with the fans in the stadium has to be improved. Also the referee must always consult the pitchside video and be the one making the final decision- not someone remote from the match. There is a danger that the referee could abdicate making a decision because the VAR official will over-rule.

Moving onto next season

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

Central defence. Lack of options at the end of the season cost us dearly.

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

We also need a goal scoring winger and bring in a successor for Vardy- not easy but it has to happen next season.

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

We have to be realistic. Our finances will never match the so called “Big Four” but by developing young players that see a future in Leicester City we have a model that works. * If we sell Chilwell (who is good but not flawless) for £80 million then we can reinvest in new players.

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

Firstly I would say thank you for being such fantastic owners and I hope their own business will survive the world wide recession. I am full of admiration for Top and his team who never seem to put a foot wrong in their communication with the fans. We are very fortunate.

I will leave it to the team to select targets to sign. Occasionally we get it wrong (e.g. Slimani, Musa) but our scouting system seems good.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

I hope for a top 6 league position and a good run in the Europa League. I fear that our poor form from last season will continue and that we will start badly, especially with Evans banned for three games and Ricardo still out for a while.

My main fear though is that, unless a vaccine magically appears. I just cannot see when I can be at the King Power cheering on my team in the foreseeable future. Oh how I miss live football…

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 prioritise the Premiership and Europa League. Play the B team in the other games.

Any other observation you would like to make

There is not much time before the season starts again. We need to make any signings early so that we can bed in new players before the season starts. If we cannot develop the squad then I fear that next season could be a disappointment.

One last comment. We probably will have one more season of James Maddison before he moves on. There is still more potential for improvement if he continues to work at his game.

*This article was written before Ben Chilwell’s transfer to Chelsea

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