Football News: Leicester City Season Review

 

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Leicester City Season Review
Image from: hotspotmedia.co.uk

Leicester City Season Review

This season was always going to be somewhat of an anti-climax after last season's heroics to win the Premier League title. Though a trip to the quarter-finals of the Champions League was almost as good for the fans and certainly as good for the club's bank balance. The fact they did so well in the Champions League, even while struggling badly in the Prem, shows how much the club were affected by the player's attitudes. With the player's in almost full scale revolt against Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes were having to face up to the possibility of a relegation battle.

A chat with the players saw the owners fire Ranieri, the season after he led the club to its first ever Premier League title, to replace him with his assistant Craig Shakespeare. Results immediately improved, as the players, stung by the media criticism of their recent abject performances, suddenly bothered to try. Their belief was that they were proving Ranieri was the problem, but it in fact proved that they were at fault, that they still had it in them to win games, when they were not sulking.

Working under their new manager, the man the players themselves chose, Shakespeare, the team went on a run of wins and soon climbed out of trouble and finished in midtable, 12th in fact. Good enough to earn Shakespeare the job on a permanent basis. Without Walsh to find them players, will they ever be able to build on that one season of success?


Claudio Ranieri

While this season was always going to be a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show, few, if any, could have predicted just how wrong things could have gone for Ranieri. Hampered by the loss of Steve Walsh to Everton in the summer, things just deteriorated from there. From the feted hero of the Foxes' faithful to the man sacked with little outcry from the fans, this was a season to forget for the Italian.

Ranieri's likeable persona with the media is obviously not so likeable for the players, who lost faith and turned on him during the season, as results went awry. The attempts to move the style on for European football was not to the players' liking and they downed tools in the Premier League, forcing the owners to choose between them. Unfortunately for Ranieri, the owners backed the players.

Marks out of 10: -8


Craig Shakespeare

Putting aside his role in deposing Ranieri, Shakespeare had what could be considered a successful season, if you forget that he was also assistant manager when things were going wrong. Putting aside that inconvenient truth, that he was a part of the problem, Shakespeare, as manager, just returned to what had worked for Leicester the previous season. There was no sign of any plan of action when games were going against Leicester, just a return to what had worked when they won the league.

This season will be a far bigger test of how well Shakespeare can manage, a season where he will have to show an ability to change things when it is not going well. It will also be a test of the Foxes' signing policy without Walsh, as the club chases a bunch of 29 year olds, players who have already hit their peak, instead of the young, hungry players, still yet to reach their peak that Walsh preferred.

Marks out of 10: 6.5


Ron-Robert Zieler

The German goalkeeper was signed from Hamburg 96 to be the back up to Schmeichel. Injuries to Schmeichel meant he managed to make 13 appearances, but conceded 23 goals and kept just one sheet in those 13 appearances. His failure to impress saw him back on the bench whenever Schmeichel was fit.

Marks out of 10: -2


Kasper Schmeichel

Despite many similarities in his style and the way he looks, Schmeichel is not quite his dad, but he is a Premier League winner and a keeper with excellent distribution. This season was a mixed one for him, early indifferent performances and injury contributed to a disappointing year, despite a smattering of outstanding performances from the Danish keeper.

Marks out of 10: 4


Ben Hamer

The third choice keeper at the Foxes who made just one first team appearance, in a dead rubber Champions League games, which they lost 5-0 to Porto.

Marks out of 10: -6.5


Robert Huth

The big German centre back was just one of many players who underperformed compared to the previous season. The club's early season attempt to play a more expansive style of play did not play to his strengths and he struggled to adapt. Once the team reverted back to last season's deep-lying bodies on the line style from the previous season, Huth was back in his comfort zone.

Marks out of 10: 4.5


Yohan Benalouane

It has been a struggle for the Tunisian to break up the partnership of Morgan and Huth. With Morgan missing the end of last season, Benalouane was able to get a run of games at the end of the season. It was never a particularly good fit aloongside Huth though.

Marks out of 10: 3


Luis Hernandez

Hernandez struggled to hold down a place in Leicester's side, as the team struggled to adapt to a more European style of football. As he was struggling badly to adapt to English football, he was sold off to Malaga just six months after joining the Foxes.

Marks out of 10: 1


Wes Morgan

Last season, when fit, the club captain was like a solid lump of stone at the back, not the most mobile but always there to force players to have to go around. This season he was even less mobile, which could be put down to the back trouble that ended his season early, or age catching up with him or even just the change in style that forced him out of his comfort zone to defend higher up the pitch and cover more space.

Marks out of 10: 2


Molla Wague

The centre back joined Leicester on loan from Granada in the January transfer window but only managed one first team appearance. An FA Cup match versus Millwall, which they lost.

Marks out of 10: 1


Marcin Wasilewski

A cult hero of the Foxes' fans, the big Polish centre half was an essential part of the title run-in filling in any gaps in the defence. This season his age, and indiscipline, caught up with him and he was no longer the first choice back up. Just one Premier League appearance, two in the FA Cup and one EFL Cup appearance was all he had to show for this season, prior to being released at the end of it.

Marks out of 10: 1.5


Jeffrey Schlupp

Schlupp has always been a fringe player, in and out of the team in various positions. This season he was out a lot more than in, as replacements arrived for him in midfield and Chilwell began to replace him as the back up left back. Schlupp was surplus to requirements and moved on in January.

Marks out of 10: 1.5


Christian Fuchs

Fuchs has proved himself to be an essential part of the team, even though his level dropped off from the previous season, when he was absolutely outstanding. Even his deadly set piece delivery was not quite of the quality it had been. He was still one of the best full backs in the Premier League, but he had dropped from being an 8-8.5 each week to being a 7. Very few players can match his quality at full back, but, for all that, it was a disappointment to see a player allow his performances to slip.

Marks out of 10: 7


Ben Chilwell

Following his decision to stay at the Foxes in the summer and sign a new contract, despite interest from Liverpool, Chilwell has begun to edge his way into the team. For now he is still a back up making substitute appearances, but a back up with a bright future.

Marks out of 10: 3.5


Danny Simpson

Simpson has made himself undisputed first choice right back for Leicester, despite the persistent silly cards he picks up. Like all the rest, he was not at his best last season.

Marks out of 10: 5


Nampalys Mendy

Mendy was brought in from OGC Nice in an attempt to replace N'Golo Kante, after the French midfielder was sold to Chelsea in the summer. Unfortunately for Mendy, knee injuries hampered him badly.

Marks out of 10: 2


Daniel Amartey

A very mixed season for Amartey, who was in and out of the team, sometimes offering cover at right back, as well as in midfield. At times he looked strong, powerful and capable, other times he just looked a bit lost.

Marks out of 10: 3


Onyinye Ndidi

The young Nigerian midfielder only arrived in January from Genk, but it seems like Leicester have found their Kante replacement in Ndidi. Though Ndidi is not quite at Kante's level when it comes to defending, he does offer more threat going forward, even scoring the occasional goal. Like Kante, he is a hard working, hard running midfielder looking to break up play and support attacks. While it is too early to judge him just yet, the early evidence suggests that the Foxes have unearthed another gem in Ndidi.

Marks out of 10: 7


Danny Drinkwater

Drinkwater has a claim to rival that of Vardy's, for most disappointing player of the season. The season before he forced his way into the England reckoning, played to a consistently high level and generally looked a very good Premier League player. Last season, he looked completely out of his depth most weeks. Drinkwater was not playing like a good player who was struggling to adjust to a new partner, he was playing like an average player who had been carried by his partner and suddenly had to stand on his own two feet. He still ran around a lot, but there was no thought, plan or sense behind the runs, meaning there were gaping holes left in midfield as his partner was unable to cover for him.

The improvement in his game, once Ndidi was brought in alongside him, was massive. Suddenly back to being able to just run hither and thither freely, he began to look more like the player of the season before. However, the loss of Kante did highlight his massive limitations as a player.

Marks out of 10: 2.5


Andy King

King has been with the club since their League One days, but is now just a back up option usually. A good back up option off the bench, a willing worker and with the ability to pop up with the odd goal, just not good enough to be a regular starter. It was a sign of how badly things were going last season that he played so many times.

Marks out of 10: 3


Matty James

Made just one late substitute appearance, against Manchester City, before being sent out on loan in the January transfer window, to Barnsley.

Marks out of 10: 0


Harvey Barnes

A young midfielder whose sole appearance was as a substitute in the dead-rubber Champions League drubbing at the hands of Porto. In January he went off on loan to MK Dons.

Marks out of 10: 1


Marc Albrighton

Since leaving Aston Villa to sign for Midlands rivals Leicester, Albrighton has been revitalised. All about hard work and always willing to chase back to protect his full back, Albrighton has never been a player of real skill, not the type to beat his man and smack in a shot. However he does possess a very good right foot, which can deliver a good cross or set piece delivery. Another who was not at his best last season, but no fullback had an easy ride when they faced him.

Marks out of 10: 6


Bartosz Kapustka

A Polish attacking midfielder who joined the Foxes from Cracovia Krakow in the summer window but was unable to force his way into the side in the Prem. Kapustka did manage to feature in 3 of their 4 FA Cup matches though.

Marks out of 10: 2.5


Demarai Gray

The young winger has yet to cement a place in the side, as he shows some technical skills but lacks the experience needed to provide an end product. Due to that inconsistency of performance, Gray was in and out of the side, frustrating both Ranieri and Shakespeare when starting games. His most effective performances came as an impact sub against tiring legs, when his runs caused havoc, even if he did not learn to release the ball at the right times or to make correct choices while on it.

Marks out of 10: 3


Riyad Mahrez

Despite having a serious sulk on all season, the reigning African Footballer of the Year managed to grab himself 10 goals. There was a clear difference between his performances the season before and his performances last season, enough of a difference to take him out of the reckoning for a big move to the likes of Barcelona. Gone from being the player that half of Europe enquired about last season, to being a player that, despite asking the club to make a move happen, is not a priority target for anyone. Mahrez is an object lesson in why you should always give your all, even when things are difficult at the club.

Marks out of 10: 1


Ahmed Musa

The Nigerian forward has had a real struggle to adapt since joining the Foxes last summer. His incredible pace is a real weapon, which led to him being used on the wings, as well as up front, where he prefers to play. With the rest of the team sulking for most of the season, he was never able to settle in properly and show what he could do.

Marks out of 10: 3.5


Jamie Vardy

Without doubt the disappointment of the season was Jamie Vardy. Last summer he turned down a move to Arsenal in return for a huge payrise to stay at the Foxes. The drop off in performances was immense in his case. Of all players that starred in the title winning season, he was the one that the fans should feel most let down by. Then Ranieri left and suddenly the sulking stopped and he played once more like the player with something to prove.

Marks out of 10: 0


Islam Slimani

Joining a struggling team late in the window did not help Slimani adapt to English football. He did show some promising signs but niggling injuries, the team's loss of form and the AFCON all played a part in disrupting his season. Once Shakespeare took over, he was relegated to a role as a back up.

Marks out of 10: 2.5


Shinji Okazaki

One accusation that can not be levelled at Okazaki is a lack of effort, unlike so many of his team mates last season, but the arrival of Slimani and Musa saw the diminutive Japanese forward pushed down the pecking order a little at the start of the season. Whether he started or came on a sub, Okazaki still ran himself into the ground, but his lack of goals was more telling this time around, as his teammates failed to pick up the slack unlike the previous season.

Marks out of 10: 5


Leonardo Ulloa

Ulloa is reminiscent of Okazaki, though the pair differ greatly in stature, they both run around like their lives depend on the result of each match. Their non-stop harrying of the opposition in every game was badly missed last season, with Ulloa having a very limited role, to the point that he was looking to leave in January. His hard running, height and strength were badly missed at times. However, like Okazaki, his goal return was poor and it badly cost the Foxes.

Marks out of 10: 1

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