The 2021/22 season is in the bag. It didn’t go the way most fans would have wanted, but what’s done is done, so let’s recap how our squad performed, starting with the goalkeepers and defenders.
Kasper Schmeichel is a club legend. He’s won the Championship, the Premier League and the FA Cup. He’s been huge for us for a decade, and even this season made a number of ridiculous saves, keeping us in a few games all by himself.
But still, is it time to move on? His distribution has always been up and down, and now his lack of willingness to claim crosses is really showing up as everyone else is bad at set pieces too. If the rumoured bids come in, maybe we should think about it.
The others didn’t play, so who really cares. Special mention to Daniel Iversen, who played his first full season in the Championship and won his team’s player of the year. A natural successor?
Maybe more about who wasn’t there as who was. Ricardo Pereira played well, but still couldn’t get a full run of fitness, and you can see that the pre-injury form still isn't there as a result.
James Justin was a huge miss in the first half of the season and the impact of his return was clear to all. Even if he too isn’t quite back to his best, the England call was more than deserved.
Timothy Castagne and Luke Thomas steadied things up as well as they could early in the season, but Castagne couldn’t hold up to playing most games, while Thomas was a little shown up at times, playing with a weak cast around him. I still think he has a great future at the position though.
Ryan Bertrand is not very good.
Jonny Evans and Wesley Fofana are great players and a great pairing. Absolutely no concerns when those two are on the pitch. Is time catching up on Evans? Next year will tell, especially as his lack of physicality shows up at set pieces, but no question we should go forward with those two as the comfortable first choice.
If I’m slotting an extra player into a back 3 with those guys, I also have no problems with Soyuncu. He had a bad year, and made way more mistakes than you’d like, but I still think he can play. The concern is whether you can rely on him for long stretches if Evans’ injuries do persist, because he really does need an experienced head next to him.
After that the cupboards are bare. Daniel Amartey was loved by the fans for just not making as many mistakes as everyone else, but that’s mostly because he doesn’t do much of anything to get wrong. We can’t keep going back to Ndidi.
With Evans, Soyuncu, Fofana, Vestergaard, Benkovic and JJ all out, Amartey only fit for the bench, who can play CB? Doesn't sound like Rodgers wants to throw a youngster in, like Ben Nelson. Ndidi for definite, possible Castagne alongside him? Or a back 3 with Bertrand? #LCFC— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerLCFC) December 15, 2021
Jannik Vestergaard didn’t even help with set pieces, so I’m honestly not sure what hope there is for him.
The Development Squad Player of the Year, an award that’s produced a stream of first teamers lately, was Lewis Brunt, who played primarily at CB, but also at LB in PL2 games. He also got a brief run in FA Cup and Premier League games, although not trusted at the back but in midfield instead. At 21 he still has some time, but it would be nice to see him get ahead of Wilf next year.
In all it was, obviously, a ver bad season for the defence. We conceded lots and lots of goals. The only question left is how much you can blame them. Even, putting the injuries aside, I think there’s a big coaching question about set pieces, so I personally don’t think it’s a terrible group of players.