Another year and another Premier League season is over, with this year’s champions being Manchester City. What looked like being one of the most exciting Premier League finishes ever turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, which I’ll go into more in a moment. I will also do a singular review for each team and how their season went.
However to go back to the season as a whole; for almost the entire year it seemed as if we were in for one of the most exciting finishes of all time, in fact only one month ago everything was still to play for. There was a three way race for the title, Everton and Arsenal were tussling for 4th and about eight teams fought against relegation, however by the time we got to the last day none of this was actually relevant. What we actually got was a title race which was all but over and that was it, to the extent that Sky put on a Spurs game because they had to draw to clinch 6th…Yes it turned out to be a dire finish to the season.
The irony is that the season had been incredibly exciting, but the finish was boring and that puts a damper on the whole thing. It’s a bit like when you go to a movie and it is incredible but delivers up a stinking finish, despite the fact that the rest of the movie was great, you can’t help but talk about how poor the ending was. If the start had been poor but the movie recovered you would have forgot because it happened so long ago, but the finale is the last thing you see, it is the thing that you remember the most and it can make or break a movie. That is exactly what happened with this season; great season, poor last day, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Maybe I’m not the right person to ask because as a Man Utd fan I’m not going to remember this season fondly (who knows maybe I’m just bitter), but it feels like the classic Premier League hype machine. I don’t think anyone thinks that currently the best teams in the world play in the Premier League (clearly they don’t), but in my mind there is no doubting that it is the most competitive league in the world but also the most well marketed league in the world, and sometimes you get fooled into thinking it is better or more exciting than it actually is. This Sunday was a perfect example of this; Martin Tyler saying that you never know, maybe West Ham will score 3 goals with 15 minutes to go despite the fact they had barely had an attack all game and looked more interested in their holidays than what was happening on the pitch (yes he is a dreadfully poor commentator). Anything to keep the viewers, what a company man!
Anyway onto the team by team review, I did do a preview before the season started which had where I thought each team would finish (which I didn’t like at the time) and one after the summer transfer window closed (which I considered to be my actual predictions for the year [not that they were any better]), which I shall refer to from time to time.
Man City 1st
You can’t really complain about how your season went when you won the league can you? The answer is no, but to me it felt like City won the league by default rather than because they deserved to. It seemed like all the other title competitors managed to throw their title aspirations away when it came down to the nitty gritty, as they struggled to cope with the pressure of being title favourites City sort of plodded along and ended up winning the title. Now don’t get me wrong, City have easily the best first team and squad in the league (they were my pre-season pick for the league) and should have won the league at a canter, but they didn’t, and in the end were rather lucky. City did win five games in a row to finish the season and win the league, so fair do’s, but before going on that five game run they required both Liverpool and Chelsea to make an arse of their run in to even have a chance, thankfully for City both teams more than gladly obliged.
Looking to the future they will need to fix their defence in the summer, because Demichelis isn’t a top end Premier League starter and Kompany has injury concerns. The midfield needs further solidification to relieve the over reliance on Toure, and there is a much needed insertion of pace out wide as without that City can be very one dimensional and Navas hasn’t cut it. Next year City will be looking to become only the third team to retain the Premier League but more importantly make a real impact in Europe, something this team has shown no ability to do in their first three attempts.
It must be crazy being a Liverpool fan because at the start of the season if you offer them 2nd in the league they would have done anything, but how can you not feel disappointed after that? Put quite simply they blew it. Three matches to go against Chelsea H, Palace A and Newcastle H and all you need is seven points. Look at those matches, Chelsea put out half a team, and Palace and Newcastle have nothing to play for, surely a team which hadn’t lost all year and were on a 11 game winning streak could finish that off and win their first ever Premier League…Until oops…The Chelsea result was inexcusable, all they needed to do was pass it along the backline (ironic I know) and play for a 0-0, but no Rodgers knew better, let’s go for the big glorious win! I’m sure he regrets that. If the Chelsea result was inexcusable then I don’t know what to call the Palace result; despite the fact that City were unlikely to drop points to Villa or West Ham at home you still have to ask the question, to not ask the question is pathetic. The only man to blame is Rodgers, he couldn’t set his team up to play smart football when they really needed to and that is what cost Liverpool the league. It was a great season for Liverpool and they deserve all the plaudits they receive for putting in such a great effort, but I don’t think any Liverpool fan can honestly come away from this season and say that they are not incredibly disappointed. Liverpool should have won the league, they didn’t.
Looking to the future I think that Liverpool are really going to struggle next year and will be lucky to finish top four. They need to sign at least five major players who can contribute straight away because currently their squad isn’t good enough to put in another title challenge. Liverpool once again have the Champions League which will put even more pressure upon their squad but it’s a pressure which I’m sure every team wants to have, so I doubt they mind too much.
Much like Liverpool Chelsea fans must be left wondering what if after this season. I wrote a piece about who I thought would win the league with about nine games to go, and the outcome was Chelsea. Somehow though Chelsea managed to lose away to Villa, away to Palace, at home to Sunderland (their first home defeat under Mourinho ever) and then drew away to Norwich. That is an atrocious run of dropped points at the most important time of the season and that has cost Chelsea the league. The funny thing about this season is that Chelsea haven’t actually improved their league position from last year (finishing 3rd), in reality they did better because they actually challenged this year but in the end it came to the same outcome. The Mourinho factor came in to play this year as Chelsea’s record against the top teams was absolutely excellent (double over City and Liverpool) but his decision to ignore the striker issues which he inherited cost Chelsea the league. It seems even more odd that he would let what is probably Chelsea’s best striker go out on loan (Lukaku) leaving himself with three strikers who could only combine for 19 league goals (Lukaku got 15). I’m not saying that Lukaku would have done as well at Chelsea as he did at Everton (because he would have got less playing time) but he was better than Torres, Eto’o or Ba, so the decision to let him go seems very odd. Similar to Liverpool, no honest Chelsea fan can say they are not disappointed with the outcome of this season, despite the fact at the start of the year they knew they were still in transition.
Looking to the future Chelsea need to fix their defence, they only have two centre backs who can be relied upon and they also need to fix the Courtois Cech situation (personally I’d sell Cech and keep Courtois because he is as good as Cech already and is 10 years younger). However not unsurprisingly the most important thing Chelsea need to fix is their striker options, they need at least two (probably three) to fix what is a total mess. If Hazard goes he will be a big loss to the team, but he doesn’t really fit in Mourinho’s method of doing things (over the top ego). Obviously it depends on who they sign to play up front but I fully expect Chelsea to challenge for the league next year, but don’t expect the football to get any better.
For half the year Arsenal put in a realistic title challenge but did anyone really think that they had a chance? I know I didn’t, I know the bookies didn’t and I get the feeling everyone pretty much felt the same. Every year it seems like Arsenal finish the season and the story goes ‘oh if only we hadn’t had those injuries!’ honestly like every year, and that is Arsenal’s problem they don’t have a good enough squad to realistically make a tittle challenge. It also doesn’t help when the £42 million player that you put all your hope in doesn’t really turn up for most of the season, maybe Ozil will turn out to be a good signing and value for money but when you spend that kind of money you expect an instant impact. Before the season I said something like Aaron Ramsey isn’t any good and has shown no sign of development so should be sold…bit awkward as he turned himself into Arsenal’s best player by a country mile (see their form dip when he gets injured and then pick up again when he is fit), can’t always be right I guess…Another year and another place in the Champions League, add an FA Cup to that and Arsenal will have had a great season (I thoroughly expect them to do so).
Looking forward Arsenal need a lot of redevelopment; they need two new full backs (both right and left), a new centre back wouldn’t go amiss, they need more width, they need someone in midfield who can just do something special and they need at least two strikers because a top club shouldn’t have only one serviceable striker in their squad. Every year you wonder if this is the year that Arsenal won’t make top four, and I imagine they will make it again next year due to the confidence they should gain from winning the FA Cup. To challenge for the league they are still about five or so players off, which is a big ask.
Excellent season for Everton but they must feel a tad disappointed that they put themselves in a Champions League place with five games to go and managed to blow it with a terrible run in (bit of a recurring theme). I didn’t think they would get top four because I thought they would get beat by City and Arsenal would win out, but they didn’t even give themselves the chance with losses to Palace and Southampton, you have to ask the question otherwise you won’t get an answer. Regardless of that Everton must be ecstatic with the outcome of the season, 5th and their highest points total ever. It was a nice combination of the sturdiness of David Moyes’ regime and the new freedom and attacking style of Roberto Martinez’s regime and it worked so damn well. Great season for Everton, it will be interesting to see how they do next year.
Looking forward Everton need to fix a lot of things in their team, they could do with a couple of defenders (Alcaraz is not a good back up), more depth for the midfield and god do they need some strikers. That is the problem with Everton’s season this year; too much of their first team was based upon loan players and that will leave huge holes for next season. The biggest loss is Lukaku because without him Everton don’t really have a good striker (I know Kone’s there), you could see that Everton struggled at times without Lukaku because they didn’t have anyone else, Martinez must fix this if Everton are going to emulate this seasons performance, I doubt they will.
Typical old Spurs, it always seems to be a mess. I think that Spurs as a club can be summed up in one performance, the game against West Ham at home where if they had won they would have went top but instead they got beat 3-0 (3 goals conceded against a Big Sam team? Really?). In my opinion they should never have sacked Villas-Boas (it would be interesting to see if Spurs fans agree) and Tim Sherwood was not the man who should have replaced him (what a calamity). Spurs sold their best player in the summer and wasted a chunk of that money on players who have done little to nothing (what were they thinking with Lamela?), it’s typical Spurs. It must be really frustrating to be a Spurs fan because on paper you have the fourth best squad in the league yet routinely under achieve, this season was no different. Don’t worry you have that Europa League football again, you know the one that you consistently moan about being in and how it ruins your season? I’m sure you’re chuffed!
Looking to next year, I think Spurs are going to struggle (possibly losing Lloris and Vertonghen) and they will need some big signings and big players (as well as a manager) to come in and do something special, otherwise it will be another year of disappointment. Christian Eriksen looks like he is the lone beacon of light for Spurs’ future, they need to build the team around him, but they still require a lot of pieces. Don’t expect top four next year, go for a Europa League win instead (Champions League place at stake).
Man Utd 7th
What an awful season, I really find it hard to understand how things could go so seriously wrong. I was happy to see Moyes get the job because I thought he would continue on the traditions of the club but it turned into a disaster and I do believe it was the right decision to sack him. The players didn’t show up, the manager looked out of his depth tactically and the board seemed like a novice in the transfer market, needless to say it was a total disaster. Seventh for Utd is unacceptable, with the squad they had they should have finished at worst 4th. The club needs a total overhaul; this season is an example of what happens when a board invests so little money in a club over five years. Incredibly Utd won’t have any European football next year and maybe that is for the best, very much a rebuilding year to come.
Looking forward you have to think that Utd need a complete overhaul of their squad, it isn’t a bad squad but it is an aging squad. It wouldn’t surprise me if Utd got rid of as many as 10 players in the summer (could well be more), however it is unlikely that that amount of players will come back in (generally not a good idea). Utd need at least five big signings to compete again at the top end of the league; a centre back, left back, two midfielders and a winger at a very minimum. It will be interesting to see who comes in (expected to be van Gaal) because there is a large amount of young talented players in the youth system which could rejuvenate the team along with a couple of big signings (ah, all sounds good in theory). As a Utd fan I didn’t see this coming, I think next year we will be back in the top four but it is no guarantee like it once was.
A great season for Southampton who managed to build on staying in the league last year masterfully. I think that 8th is as good as it can get for Southampton and they finished their comfortably. Southampton have a great young squad, which played attractive football and got big results consistently. The players are a real credit to the team and a real credit to the manager; it was almost the perfect season for them. I’m glad because they do football the right way; develop youth, spend within their means and play attractive football.
Looking forward I worry for Southampton, I can’t see them finishing higher than this (you never know), they are almost certainly going to lose some of their first team players (Shaw, Lallana, Schniederlin, Lovren and maybe more) and it also looks like they could lose their manager. The positive side of that for Southampton fans is that they aren’t a club reliant on one manager, but rather a club which has a great ethos and requires a manager to fully implement that ethos. I think they’ll finish top half next year, and if they invest their transfer money wisely maybe they could push for a cup or European place (got to aim for something).
I thought that Stoke would struggle this year after Tony Pulis left, instead they ended up finishing with their highest ever Premier League finish. Stoke played slightly better football this year, but they are still a rough and tumble sort of side. The Britannia is a hard ground to go to, and Stoke got their regular season scalps at home. Not really much more I can say other than that Stoke had a very solid season under Mark Hughes.
Looking forward I wonder how Hughes will try and adapt the manner in which Stoke play, because they still very much play in the Pulis style. There are a lot of old players in this squad and a lot of deadwood as well, so they need a lot of overturn but Stoke should look to try and do this slowly as doing it too quickly could derail everything which has went before.
Top 10 is a good season for Newcastle, but they lost 6 out of their last 7 games and very much flat lined to finish the year. Losing one player (in Cabaye) should not have such a detrimental effect on a team, yet Newcastle’s form collapsed so seriously you have to be concerned about them moving forward. You also have to be concerned about the conduct of Alan Pardew, your manager isn’t supposed to head butt opposing players. Personally I’d have got rid of him after the incident, because it makes the club look bad, however I don’t know how you could sack him for the actual season performance of the club (10th is god for Newcastle). Of course everyone will agree in unison that the real problem at Newcastle is Mike Ashley the owner, how this man made a successful business I don’t know, but he should never have been allowed to own a football club, it’s sad that he does.
Looking forward I don’t see bright things for Newcastle, it is a club in turmoil; fans upset, players uninterested and poorly run, it is a recipe for disaster. They need major signings to maintain their place in the league which is questionable, I don’t think they’ll get top 10 next year and I doubt Pardew will see the end of the season.
Crystal Palace 11th
Palace had the worst squad at the start of the season, didn’t improve it in the summer transfer window, had an incredibly leaky defence, couldn’t score goals and had a manager who was out of his depth; they had no chance of doing anything but finish bottom of the table. So sit back and admire the incredible job which Tony Pulis has done here (should be manager of the year). This club had no chance in hell of staying up and they almost finished top half, which is remarkable management. Pulis fixed the defence, made Palace a hard team to beat and also utilised the January transfer window in a manner which many other low end teams could only dream of, he did a great job. I think the Palace fans have been the best in the league this year, and I think that a number of their players really rose to the massive challenge of playing in the Premier League (Jerdinak especially).
Looking forward the most important thing which Palace must do is retain Tony Pulis, without him they wouldn’t be in the league anymore. If the goal is to stay in the league then they could find no better man than Pulis to manage the club. They need to strengthen the squad and most notably add goals to that team, because this is still a Championship team playing in the Premier League.
Twelfth isn’t shouldn’t be sniffed at if you are Swansea because after all this is only your third year in the league. Ultimately though it is a disappointing third year in the league for Swansea as they struggled to juggle their domestic fixtures with their European fixtures. I don’t really understand why Laudrup was sacked (maybe Swansea fans could enlighten me) because he was doing a good job as far as I was concerned, and it isn’t like Gary Monk came in and did a better job. Swansea finished 12th but in reality they were mired in a relegation battle for much of the season which isn’t where this talented squad should be (they should be top 10).
Looking to the future, Swansea will need to hold onto guys like Bony (who finished the season very well) and Michu (who missed so much through injury) and of course strengthen throughout the team. They won’t have European football next year so I expect them to do better, but they might not finish any higher but they should be safer.
West Ham 13th
They play dire football so I get why the fans complain but you’re West Ham, you don’t have any given right to be in the Premier League so understand your situation and shut the fuck up. Do you know what you sound like when you boo your team off after winning and bitching and moaning like you’ve been relegated when in fact you’ve stayed up easily? You come off as pathetic little pricks that should go and support another club. I mean you would rather play the West Ham way in the Championship than the Big Sam way in the Premier League? Oh wait you want to play the West Ham way in the Premier League? You mean the West Ham way that routinely sees you getting relegated? Ah I thought so. You finished 13th and to be honest that’s as good as it gets for West Ham, so stop being whiny little bitches and embrace something which so many fans would love to have.
Looking forward West Ham could be in an odd position because under Big Sam they will stay up next year, if they sack him then it really depends who comes in to replace him. West Ham don’t have a great squad and have nothing special coming through (unless you count Morrison, who is a loose cannon), we’ll see how things go.
The great escape- the Sunderland edition! No I’m not talking about their escape from relegation but rather their escape from Paolo Di Canio. Surely the club knew after last season he was not a good long term manager, yet they gave him another season and lots of money to waste on players who barely featured. Di Canio set Sunderland back so much that this squad which has too much talent to be relegated almost did exactly that before going on an incredible run which saw them pick up 7 points away to City, Chelsea and Utd (what Wenger would give for that every season). Poyet did an excellent job of pulling them out of the mire which they should never have been in and should be congratulated for doing so. A League Cup final and not being relegated is a pretty good season for Sunderland, but it may be papering over the cracks. The team needs rejuvenated with some young blood as there are a number of old players at the heart of the team and there is a lot of deadwood thanks to Di Canio and his reckless spending. Sunderland fans shouldn’t get cocky though, for all the world they should have been relegated, the got lucky, I doubt it will happen again.
Looking forward I think Sunderland will be ok, they have a decent squad but there should be a decent overturn of players because as I said there is a lot of deadwood at the club.
Aston Villa 15th
Another one of those seasons for Villa, they never seem to be able to move beyond that battling to avoid relegation area. It’s a young team but you would have expected them to have improved on last season, and that is not evident. There is a blatant over reliance on Benteke and that is never healthy (see their form plummet when he got injured). The other very concerning thing is how poor their home form is, it is atrocious. Villa Park should be a fortress but instead it is a playground. I can only assume that the fans high expectations are causing a nervous atmosphere and that is affecting the players, not that it should these guys are professionals playing at a high level. Another poor Villa season, I know the fans blame the manager but maybe they should look in the mirror and lower their expectations.
Looking to the future it is hard to know what to expect from Villa. Their owner has put them up for sale and uncertainties about the future are the worst thing that could happen to the club. They will need this to be resolved quickly, hold onto Benteke and add some quality instant impact players who aren’t afraid of playing in front of a big crowd.
Really good season for Hull, I thought they would be relegated but Bruce did a great job in the transfer market as well as as a coach and they are deservedly staying up. I think if you look at Hull the main area which they showed their desire was the transfer market, after the summer window closed I said that I felt that they had done an excellent job bringing in players who instantly made the team better (like McGregor and Huddlestone) and they then did the same thing in January by over spending on Jelavic and Long, but those signings were a big part of why they stayed up so in the end it was worth the gamble. Well done to Hull who are another club looking at a tumultuous future with their unusual owner.
Looking to the future Hull have an FA Cup final to look forward to (doubt they’ll win their form is not good) and also European football for next season. I think they will struggle to stay up with the added pressure of Europe and they will need a good summer to keep their Premier League status.
West Brom 17th
Poor season for West Brom after finishing 8th last year they scrape staying up this season. Their biggest mistake was sacking Steve Clarke who was doing an excellent job and replacing him with a man who has no experience of the league and didn’t even manage to last to the next season. Not enough goals in the team saw the club finish with a league high 15 draws, they sorely missed Lukaku and amazingly enough Victor Anichebe wasn’t a great replacement.
Looking to the future, a lot will depend on who they get in as their new manager, they have a good team with some good young players but they are desperately in need of some strikers. No guarantees of staying up but they should be safe with an upper bottom half of the table finish.
Norwich seem to endlessly bounce up and down amongst the divisions and this season was no different. I didn’t see them getting relegated at the start of the season because I thought they had bought well in the summer, turns out I was wrong. Both Hooper and van Wolfswinkel flopped and with the big transfer fees which were paid Norwich couldn’t afford that happening. I wrote about who would get relegated with about 10 games to go (got all three right!) and I saw it straight away, Norwich’s run in was so tough that if they found themselves in trouble they would be gone, and so it turned out. Norwich aren’t a great loss to the league, and obviously this was a poor season where they under achieved.
Looking forward you wonder where Norwich will go, they don’t have many desirable players (Snodgrass and Olsson being a couple who are) and they no longer have a manager, it will be a tough couple of years and I don’t see them bouncing straight back.
What a total mess. If I was a Fulham fan I would have been massively pissed at how the club was being run. To sack Jol I understand but why sack Meulensteen after giving him all that money to spend in January? The whole season was a mess, 85 goals conceded isn’t good enough and Fulham’s once good home record collapsed. When you spend £12 million on a striker you expect him to make an instant impact, not play a handful of games and barely scratch the surface. Really just a total mess, which is a shame after their 13 year run in the Premier League.
Looking forward I can’t see good things happening at Fulham (bring back Jacko!), they have an old squad and have just spent lots of money on players who weren’t good enough, I can’t see them coming straight back up.
If Fulham’s season was a mess then I don’t know what to describe Cardiff’s season as. They had a team which should have been good enough to stay up, they made a good start and then they inexplicably fired their manager, the guy that got them this far, and why? Well shockingly it turns out that their owner Vincent Tan is an egomaniac. If it weren’t for the fact that this affects people it would be funny to look at what is happening at Cardiff. I don’t know why Solskjaer took the job, he should’ve waited for a better team and a more stable situation to come along, and I feel sorry for him because he is a legend and such a nice guy. You knew things weren’t right when after beating City in their first home game the owner came down onto the pitch to celebrate with the players, that isn’t his place. You knew things were even more not right when he put a 23 year old in charge of football operations who was painting the stadium about a week before and then turned out to not be able to work in the country legally. An absolute mess of a club, they deserved to get relegated.
Looking to the future you have to worry for Cardiff because Tan could drive the club into the ground and it wouldn’t shock me if he was the manager by the end of next season (sort of a joke but I really wouldn’t be). They are likely to lose the players who played well this season like Marshall, Caulker and Medel and that doesn’t really leave much else behind. I doubt they will come back up next season because the club is a total mess.
It’s a lot of words and it was a long season and here are my predictions from pre-season, post summer transfer window and their final position in the league (order of actual position, pre-season and post transfer window).
As I said earlier my post transfer window predictions are the ones which I felt most confident about (for instance when the first prediction was made Spurs still had Bale so I had to take that into consideration hence their top 4 prediction) and out of twenty I only got three teams right. It’s funny most of the teams ended up sort of where I expected them to (a few exceptions which I’ll go into in a minute) but only three actually finished exactly where I predicted, shows prediction are a hell of a lot harder than you think.
Of the teams I got wildly wrong let’s start in the obvious place, Liverpool. I honestly thought they would struggle without Suarez and I also thought he was going to be stroppy throughout the season, turns out I was wrong. An area which I still think I am right in is that they have the sixth best squad in the league and over achieved gloriously. The next most glaring mistake was in Man Utd who I had finishing 2nd and then actually finished 7th, although I was miles out I doubt that many people would have had Utd finishing out of the top four. I was also way out with Stoke who I thought would really struggle this year but ended up doing very well, so that’s all on me. The other two which I was way out on were Palace and Cardiff, both understandably so. Palace under Holloway didn’t have a chance of staying up, under Pulis they were a totally different team. Cardiff imploded as their owner decided to get too involved and their form ended up collapsing.
So there you have it City are the champions of England once again, Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff will be plying their trade in the Championship next season and Steven Gerrard will never win a Premier League medal in his career (well unless he joins a team that knows how to win things).
So tell me what you thought of the 2013/14 Premier League season! Did you love it, loath it or did you not even bother watching it because Corrie was on and you wanted to say goodbye to Hayley? Leave a comment and tell me what an idiot I am for not presenting your club properly or being biased against Norwich or maybe even that I hate Man Utd. All comments are welcome! Also please feel free to share this post or any other post on bm23sportsreviews with your friends, your grannie and that homeless guy on the street.