'Ninth position cannot be taken for granted'


Leicester City's final game of the season against Spurs proved to be eventful to say the least.

14th May 2018

A nine-goal thriller in which some clinical attacking play was offset by woeful defensive performances from both sides. 

Leicester scored seven goals in their last two fixtures, if only they had found a few in the rough patch of form that preceded the two games against two opponents sitting in the top six.

In many ways, that has been the negative of this season for Leicester, they show up for the big games but are prone to floundering against other mid-table opposition. 

Kelechi Iheanacho's goal was probably the pick of the bunch, the Nigerian forward has really stepped up in recent games and I believe he has cemented his position as Jamie Vardy's partner up front.

The problem with this game was a non-reaction every time Leicester scored. For every Vardy goal, Harry Kane responded three minutes later. Let's hope that equates to goals arriving in pairs for England at the World Cup!

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Has this season been a success?

Finishing ninth is a great achievement for Leicester City. It doesn't quite satisfy the long-term ambition of the club and some of the fans aren't sold at all on Claude Puel, but over the course of 38 games, to finish in the top half has to be considered a relative success.

I feel like Leicester ended the season playing their emblemic brand of exciting, high pressing, counter-attacking football and this was the route out of the terrible run of form that preceded it.

That bad run coincided with the players being accused of becoming disenfranchised while the manager was accused of having no plan of action, which left a bitter aftertaste among fans.

The poor run was the difference between pressuring Burnley for Europa League football and finishing only three points ahead of the likes of Bournemouth, West Ham and Crystal Palace, two of whom were in relegation-related headlines throughout the season.

I feel that Leicester will need to be a bit busy in the summer window if ambitions of remaining in the top half next season are to be met.

Are you happy with your manager?

Ask two Leicester fans this question and it's likely you'll get two different answers.

I'm happy with Puel though, he's given a real chance to youth this season and this has been underplayed. Players like Hamza Choudhury, Ben Chilwell, Fousseni Diabate and Iheanacho have all improved as the season has progressed and they all look like genuine prospects that can push on and become key players next season.

Puel has been criticised for his exclusion of Aleksandar Dragovic and setting Leicester up as a possession-heavy side, redacting the old format that has been pretty kind to the side.

But in recent games, Leicester have played with more freedom and their application has been close to the mark. Should we condemn a manager who tried something different? I don't think so because it isn't as if he was tinkering with the side under the threat of relegation. 

Puel has stated that he sees this job as a long-term project, and I think his emphasis on the promotion of youth captures this more than anything. I think he should be given the summer to build.

READ MORE: Top 10 Championship Players Ready To Step Up To The Premier League

What would be the club’s priority in the transfer market this summer?

Leicester must add to their defence in the summer if the club wants to move forwards.

The Foxes have an arsenal of attacking options, particularly when Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa return from their loans away. But I think we need a right-back, a left-back and also another center-half for the sake of competition for places and depth.

Danny Simpson and Marc Albrighton are not enough, especially if Riyad Mahrez leaves. Someone like Southampton's Cedric Soares would fit the bill. 

With Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs leaving, they will need to be replaced. Wes Morgan has been a scapegoat this season, but he has had some good performances too.

Harry Maguire has obviously been excellent, but Leicester need back up in the back line as there's just a lack of confidence at the moment, they seem a bit porous and inconsistent. 

I know this would be an ideal area to talk about replacing Mahrez, but I hope you can understand my outright denial that he will leave. Forgive my unwillingness to dwell on it and let me avoid thinking about it for a few more weeks. His contribution over the years can't be overstated, he is an incredible player.

What do you want to aim for next season?

We shouldn't take ninth in the table for granted, there's still some ecstasy in the veins of Leicester fans from the Premier League title year, and it's skewing expectations for some. 

Realistically, next season should be about aiming for that Europa League spot again, with a top-10 finish the minimum target.

I'd like to see the high-tempo, counter attacking football become the key philosophy of the side though, this is a team that knows how to entertain if it's permitted to. I'd love to see Puel make that work.

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