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 and now midfielders.
I’m not saying everything comes back to our lack of fit defenders, but Wilfred Ndidi cannot play another game at CB. It’s not that he’s awful there (just ask runners up Liverpool), it’s that we just don’t have anyone else who can do what he does. He’s still a little limited on the ball, but few players in the world can match him in winning the ball.
For example, Nampalys Mendy. He’s fine. That’s it. He’s a professional football player, who knows where to stand and can gather a loose ball and give it to someone else. I don’t think that’s worth keeping, but in a crisis it certainly stabilises things better than not having a defensive midfielder.
Remember that time Hamza Choudhury was reborn as a CB? That might have been his last chance to catch on at this level.
What more can be said about Youri Tielemans at this point? He’s a good player, it wasn’t his best season (nor as bad as everyone will tell you it was) and he’s almost certainly gone by next year.
The more interesting story for me is Boubakary Soumaré. We’ve had players take a full season to get up to the pace of the league before, but how can you go from someone the team actively brought in last summer, to free to leave in just a year?
You can see there’s potential, but he couldn’t even make the the bench by the end of the season. Surely it can’t all be based on his on pitch performance.
The only other name worth mentioning here is Sammy Braybrook. This was the year that his passing truly caught the eye more than his blonde locks, winning him the Academy Player of the Year.
I once said Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was low potential but maybe had a chance of making it, so you can really trust what I have to say here.
Honestly though, this is easily the best performing position from the 21/22 season. James Maddison may have had a (very) slow start, struggling to really make any chances, but once he got going it was a thing of beauty, with 30 combined goals and assists.
KDH didn’t have the same impact, at least by the stats. Just 3 of each in 44 games. But firstly, he played 44 games this year. In the context of a team falling apart at the seams with injuries, that’s invaluable.
Even with all of that, his energy never seemed to let up. He chased down every ball, and then carried it back upfield himself. He has a bright future with the club.
The depth here is paper-thin. For me, there’s 4 guys you’d want to see playing in an important game, and one of them has 1 3⁄4 feet out the door already. Wilf, KDH and Maddison is a very high quality midfield, but it’s not one you can play 50 times, especially since Ndidi is often an emergency CB.