Another year and another season of the Premier League has come to an end. By no means was 2014/15 a classic season, with everything all but guaranteed prior to the final day and one team dominating at the top of the table, however not every year can be a classic and even a bad year of Premier League football is still pretty damn good.
I would talk about the season in general but as I said it was all pretty straight forward, even the relegation battle which looked awesome with about 6 games to go was totally anti-climactic. The top four race looked like it could be a good one but by the end of the season the three main challengers all forgot how to win and gave us another anti-climactic finish to the season. That is the best way to describe this season anti-climactic and underwhelming.
Chelsea were easily the best team in the league this season, dominating it from start to finish. It says something about how dominant you were in the league when you break the record for most continuous time at the top of the table (274 days). Chelsea have the best first team in the league and so it showed in the first half of the season where they were totally dominant and also played some really nice football, the less said about the second half the better, although it was more along the lines of classic Mourinho. To be honest if you ask me Chelsea won the league before it even started. They went in to the season with the league’s best manager (by some way) and with a number of signings which made an instant impact on the team. Look at the signings; Costa, Fabregas, Luis, Drogba and Remy as well as Courtois coming back, that’s four hits out of six and the only reason Luis wasn’t a hit was because he was kept out of the team by the excellent Azpilicueta and although Drogba was a flop he was a free signing so what can you really expect? I wrote up my team of the season and my second team of the season and combined there was eight players from Chelsea, the next closest was Arsenal on four (only one of which was in the team of the season), that says everything to me. Chelsea didn’t rotate much this season and I think that is why you saw the goals dry up as the year went on, but the players who were playing were consistent and consistent at a high level. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened this season if a team had put in a legitimate challenge; alas nobody was capable of keeping up a consistent challenge.
Looking to the future for Chelsea I think that they need to add more depth in pretty much every area of the pitch. They will need a new striker to replace Drogba and he’ll have to be better than him as well because as Costa showed again he is injury prone. They need a central midfielder who can play next to Matic, maybe the young guys they have can take a step up but I doubt they’re ready yet. They need more youth in the defence with three out of their four starters being in their thirties by the end of the year and not much beyond Zouma (who I’m not sure if he’s good or just built like an absolute monster and it makes him look better). Chelsea’s first eleven is good enough but they need depth across the team, they’ll be there again next year because of Mourinho but the challenge will be much greater as those below them will almost certainly all improve by a distance.
Man City 2nd
When City dropped to fourth this season I thought to myself that if they didn’t finish in the top four it would be the worst championship defence in Premier League history, instead they turned it around and took second. Yes second isn’t good for a team with the aspirations of City but they were well off it this year so I don’t think they can really complain. City were almost totally reliant on Silva and Aguero this year, with both players dragging the rest of the team kicking and screaming to second place. Beyond these two I struggle to think of a single player who had an above average season for City this year (Joe Hart maybe), even Mr. Consistent Zabaleta was poor this season. Personally I don’t think you can blame the manager for the fuck up this season, it’s all on the players, they choked once again like they did two years ago after winning the league for the first time. Sadly for Pellegrini the blame rarely falls on the players, which is shit when you consider you have a fat lazy slob in the centre of your midfield that you have to play or he’ll throw another hissy fit calling it in all season. I mean Toure’s like that kid who always throws a hissy fit and threatens to leave and everyone is ok with that and then he never leaves because he’s just a prick and wants attention because his daddy didn’t love him enough or some shit like that, he is essentially Eric Cartman and has the same body type too.
City are in trouble next year, the biggest question for them isn’t who they sign or who they lose but rather what happens with FFP. If Platini loses his testicles once again then chances are they’ll be able to throw money at the problem but if he actually finds them (the highly unlikely outcome) then they’re pretty much fucked. Look at City’s team and tell me who is really worth keeping. Silva, Aguero, Hart, Zabaleta and maybe Bony because he hasn’t been given a chance yet, that’s about it. Obviously that amount of players aren’t going to leave the club and even if City wanted to get rid of certain one it would be difficult because they are on such high wages and certain people who may have already been mentioned are more than happy to sit and not play out their contracts. City only have five players in their first team squad who are under the age of 27 (approximately Man Utd’s average squad age), they are Aguero, Bony, Mangala, Jovetic and Boyata. To make matters worse Jovetic is almost certainly gone, Boyata never plays, Mangala looks hopeless and Bony can’t get in the team. They are also struggling to meet their quote of English players who we all know are notoriously cheap in the transfer market… This is a huge (huge!) rebuilding job, to the extent that I think if City finish top four next year they will have done a really good job.
Another very Arsenal season by Arsenal, the only really shock is that they actually managed to finish 3rd instead of 4th. It was a good year for Arsenal though as they managed to have a very good second half to the season after was a poor start. Arsenal probably should have finished second but it would have been a very typical Arsenal second, looks good on paper but there was never actually a challenge. I don’t really know what to say about Arsenal which I and many others haven’t said previously, it’s another rebuilding for next year but the next year never comes, Arsenal is the guy that keeps telling you tomorrow without ever actually coming through, at least they don’t give their fans false hope by actually putting in a real title challenge.
Looking forward Arsenal need another good transfer window because the team seems to be made of glass and despite knowing that they never have good enough depth. A centre back, some pace, a holding midfielder, a striker and another Alexis Sanchez is needed if they are to actually put in a challenge for the title. Guaranteed this time next year I write the exact same thing.
Man Utd 4th
It is pretty hard to do worse than Utd did last season so to actually finish in the top 4 is a positive however to be perfectly honest when you spend the money which Utd did and you don’t have the distraction of European football 4th is pretty shit and is the minimum of minimum of expectations. If you actually look at what LVG did with the team he inherited he did a fantastic job, he made players like Young, Fellaini, Mata, Jones, Smalling and basically everyone in the team a better player (the only regressed player was Januzaj). A large part of what LVG did was play players in their actual position, something which both Fergie and Moyes were really bad for not doing. Utd’s signings left little to be desired with the three big hitters (Falcao, Di Maria and Shaw) not delivering at all and Herrera only coming good in the final third of the year (to be fair when he was finally played consistently). LVG has brought a swagger back to Utd but my god is some of the play boring, yes Utd topped the possession charts but for a team with that much attacking talent you would have thought there would have been more goals (top scorer only had 12). I can’t count the number of times I found myself rolling my eyes at square balls outside the box (I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times it happened in a single game). As much as I feel that Utd got 4th almost by default (only won 1 of last 6) it does feel like the club is on an upswing.
Looking forward Utd still need a lot of parts; if De Gea does leave then a new goalkeeper is required, a right back is a must because Valencia can’t cut it, a centre back is still needed (although Jones and Smalling have improved), a holding/box to box midfielder and a ball playing midfielder are a must and finally a new striker is a necessity also (two if RVP goes). That is once again a large amount of players required and there likely needs to be a big turnover of talent as well. Utd should put in a challenge next year but whether they can sustain that will totally depend on who is brought in.
Another year another Europa League finish for Spurs. I’m not exactly sure what Spurs fan expect from Spurs season to season because as far as I can see as things currently stand they are the sixth biggest team in the league. With that in mind finishing fifth is a good season; however it seems that Spurs fans have heightened opinions of themselves and think that Spurs should be challenging for the Champions League. The honest truth however is that Spurs aren’t currently big enough to maintain a Champions League challenge, in fact I’m amazed that they managed to finish 5th after what was another typical Spurs season. Maybe when the new stadium opens Spurs will be more competitive but until then the club should start taking the Europa League more seriously. Despite finishing a place higher up in the league Spurs weren’t much better than they were last year, in fact if it weren’t for Eriksen and Kane I imagine that people wouldn’t be talking about what a good first year Pochettino had (to be fair he had very little backing in the transfer market).
Looking forward Spurs will need to spend big if they want to actually challenge for the Champions League (in pretty much every position), however who will they honestly displace from the current top four? Utd will improve, Chelsea are flat out better than them and Arsenal will improve, the only doubt of the four is City who despite financial restrictions will still outspend Spurs. I said it in my review last year and I’ll say it again, if Spurs want to be in the Champions League next year then they will have to win the Europa League.
I can’t say I’m surprised that Liverpool finished so far down the table this year, and I can’t say I’m surprised that they didn’t put in a realistic challenge for the Champions League because despite what everyone else was spouting Liverpool last year was a total anomaly. You can’t sell your best player and bring in a number of mediocre talents and think that you will be able to withhold your standing in the league. Liverpool signed eight players this season and I would say that every single one of them was a miss, personally I think that you have to give guys more than one year before calling them a bust, however for this season all eight didn’t contribute to the desired level. Liverpool have now also lost their biggest name in Gerrard. It does seem that Gerrard has slowed down this season (his contribution was over rated last year) but he is still more than good enough to play in this Liverpool team. It would seem to me that he has had a falling out with Rodgers (who is an arrogant unlikable character) and that is his reasoning behind leaving, however I doubt anything will ever come out about it whilst Rodgers is still at the club because Gerrard is a professional and a comment like that would be toxic for Rodgers and the fans.
Looking forward Liverpool are in massive trouble for next season. With the grumblings coming from Sterling’s camp, he is all but gone (although nothing is ever certain), which will mean that the three big players from last season will no longer be at the club, that’s not how you build towards success. I can count on one hand the number of Liverpool players who would be worth keeping, the squad needs totally rebuilt and the manager isn’t known for using money wisely. Speaking of Rodgers, I have never been a fan of his but unless Liverpool can get someone better (like Klopp or Ancelotti) I wouldn’t sack him, because what’s the point?
I remarkably good season for Southampton, which ended in quite a lot of disappointment with a very poor run in. Southampton felt like the leagues fifth best team, yet they ended up seventh, however when some people had them as relegation strugglers I guess they can’t really complain. After losing such a large number of players in the summer I don’t think anyone seen this coming from Southampton, so a huge credit has to go out to the manager, the players and the board for turning it in to a remarkable season for the club.
Looking forward I don’t really know where Southampton can go from here in terms of league position. The natural thinking would be to think that cup competitions are where they could find some joy but I think the better question is whether or not Southampton will be supporting Arsenal in the FA Cup. Would the distraction of Europe be a welcome one for the Saints? Personally I think yes but the attitude in England towards the Europa League is such that the true answer is probably no.
My team of the season, Swansea had an exceptional year. Garry Monk in his first full season catapulted himself to the top of the best young managers in the country table (not sure it exists but Eddie Howe’s up there too). Swansea managed the double over both Man Utd and Arsenal and were a consistent threat on their way to their best points tally in Premier League history. I can’t think of enough superlatives to explain how great Swansea were this year, to the extent that they lost arguably their best player and top scorer half way through the season and you wouldn’t have noticed.
Looking forward I don’t really know what to expect from Swansea, they have lots of Bony money and what seems like the combination of a good manager and a good squad. I doubt that they will be able to put in a challenge for Champions League but a Europa League place may be available and there are always the cup competitions. Assuming they are able to keep their team and are able to add a couple of strikers and a playmaker, the sky could be the limit for the Swans.
Another solid season for Stoke who have firmly cemented themselves as a Premier League stalwart. Mark Hughes has done a great job at Stoke by taking what Tony Pulis had created and making it better. It’s hard to rate how well Stoke have done because this is a very good season but I don’t see them being able to go further than they currently are. In a similar manner to Swansea I can’t see Stoke challenging for the Champions League, so the Europa League or a cup win would be as good as it gets.
Looking forward I don’t see what Stoke can really do to improve this team and make it push on. What I do think Stoke need to do is get the squad younger because as things currently stand it feels like the squad is made up of players in their late twenties and thirties, beyond that I’m sure they’ll be back in this sort of position next year.
Crystal Palace 10th
Last year I had Palace being relegated and they finished 11th, this year I had Palace being relegated and they have finished 10th, I should probably stop predicting they should be relegated because I’m beginning to look silly. To be fair Palace were well on their way to relegation after the farce of Pulis resigning the week of the first match and Neil Warnock coming in as his replacement, however my manager of the year Alan Pardew came to save the day. Palace under Pardew look a really good team, exciting to watch and unpredictable, more than capable of causing an upset, a solid mid table outfit.
Looking forward Palace could become the new ‘don’t want to go there’ place for the big teams, with attacking players like Puncheon, Zaha and Bolasie and a staunch defence and midfield Palace are a couple of strikers away from being a dangerous team, although it’s hard to see them doing much better than top ten.
Not a great year for Everton as Martinez moved from the Honeymoon phase of last season into the reality phase of this season. Personally I think a large part of last year’s success was a hangover from the Moyes era, with a mix of Moyes staunchness and the attacking freedom Martinez gave the team leading to success. You can blame Europa League football for Everton’s poor year if you want but the honest truth is that it is a poor man’s excuse in the reality is that Everton’s play as a whole dropped, with almost every player in the team regressing. Martinez shouldn’t be under pressure because he is a good manager but another season like this and the story may be different.
Looking forward I think Everton will need to spend once again. I was critical of their summer transfers as they hadn’t improved their team on last season but had spent a lot of money, they will need to spend a lot of money as every position on the pitch needs improvement.
West Ham 12th
Twelfth doesn’t seem like the correct position for what seemed like a good season for West Ham but they’re second half of the season was very poor that it shouldn’t be as big a surprise as it is. Probably the biggest talking point for West Ham is the fact that they’ve got rid of Big Sam for reasons unbeknownst to me despite the fact that in my opinion he has done a really good job. What do West Ham really expect? You are at best a mid-table club and Big Sam has given you a mid-table finish whilst also playing some exciting attacking football. Yes the team shaded off in the second half of the year but in reality can West Ham really expect to get better than 8th? I don’t think so.
Looking forward to next season I’m not sure what West Ham will be doing, Bilic is expected to come in and be the new manager and I’m sure they’ll be finishing mid table again because that’s what they do (well that or get relegated). The team will probably need an overhaul if they are to compete in Europe and do better than they did this season in the league.
West Brom 13th
West Brom were sort of in trouble when they sacked Alan Irvine and replaced him with Tony Pulis, however they were never in trouble once the Pulster was in the top seat. I’d be interested to see what West Brom fans thought of the change of manager, because yes with Pulis in charge you are unlikely to get relegated any time soon but the guy plays such horrible football I can’t honestly believe that you can be overly happy for more than a season or two. Was Irvine doing that bad a job? The only reason I can see for a change is that Pulis was available and they knew hiring him would mean a dead cert for staying up, but if they had such little confidence in Irvine then why hire him in the first place? I really don’t know. Anyway it was a good season for West Brom who are the newest in a line of hooft it up the park Tony Pulis teams. Berhaino emerged this season as a potential bright spark for the future, however like so many bright young players he has major ego and attitude problems; I’d sell him as soon as possible.
Looking forward West Brom will likely give more of the same next season, whether that is under Pulis or not. The one thing they are desperately missing is a striker who can score goals consistently, that may be Berahino but they really need more than one striker who can score. I imagine it will be another top half of the bottom half of the table finish.
Sometimes in life you are grossly wrong about something and Leicester finishing 14th is one of those occasions. Prior to their remarkable nine game run in I had predicted spot on that Leicester weren’t anywhere near being a Premier League team, even after winning three in a row I was dismissing them and by the end of the season…well…what can you say really? Their transfer windows were pretty horrific and they had a numpty managing the team, for all the world they were going down, where 7 wins, 1 draw (which is all they needed in that game so I imagine that’s what they played for) and 1 loss (to bloody Chelsea) came from I have no idea but it really is one of the greatest escapes I have ever seen. Yes it didn’t have the dramatics of West Brom’s last day survival all those years ago but it was a more impressive feat. You can’t always be right I guess…
Looking forward I think Leicester will probably get relegated next season (ugh I feel I’ve been here before…), I mean come on! They’re team is shit, it’s a Championship team playing in the Premier League and although I applaud their run in there is no way they will be able to pull something like that off again. Of course a large part of how you decide these things will be dictated by what they do in the transfer market and who knows if they sign Messi and Ronaldo they might stay up but as things stand Leicester are the worst team in the league and they also have the worst manager.
Can’t believe that Newcastle ended up finishing 15th, they were truly awful this season. I feel sorry for the fans but to be honest the Newcastle fans are a part of the problem, if you want Ashley to leave then stop going to the games and buying merchandise. I know it’s shit and you don’t want to betray the team but with Ashley in charge you are never going to go anywhere and all that will happen is that you will have funds taken out of the club. To be honest you can point many fingers at many people this season, the players for not trying hard enough (which they didn’t), John Carver for not being a good enough manager (which he isn’t) but ultimately this shambles of a season is totally the fault of Mike Ashley. After Pardew went to Palace he decided that it would be better to place Carver in charge for the rest of the season, the first mistake which was made all year by Newcastle and compounded this mistake by sticking with him despite the job clearly being too big for him. You could argue that Carver was put in place because you’ll get a better manager at the end of the season, and I’d agree with you, however once it’s clear that he is inept you are only keeping him in charge for monetary reasons. Ultimately the mess that Newcastle are in is due to two issues, firstly Ashley siphoning funds and secondly the fans treatment of Alan Pardew. He was doing a good job consistently and you still hated him for god knows why, he pisses off to Palace and after that you were in the shits. I mean 13 points in 19 games…that’s atrocious. Pardew is the only reason why Newcastle are in the Premier League right now and to be honest you should have been relegated. The saddest thing of all is the fact that I really wanted Newcastle to be relegated and they’re a team I quite like, says it all really.
Looking forward Mike Ashley says he’ll leave Newcastle if they win a cup or make the Champions League, however seeing as they haven’t done the former in over fifty years and you’d actually have to spend money to make the top four, I wouldn’t hold my breath (remember when you Newcastle fans were happy that he took over? I bet you feel silly now). The team isn’t very good and is lacking in every position; the defence is a total mess and needs a complete overhaul, Krul has dropped off, there are no goals in the team and the midfield is too lightweight. Yes there are some good players there but the biggest criticism I could give a team is the players don’t seem to care and at Newcastle the players don’t seem to care. They need a new manager and one who is capable of a total rebuilding job, if only Ashley had been nicer to Big Sam…
I’m not quite sure why Sunderland keep finding themselves in relegation battles, because to me they have a pretty good squad. I imagine the problem is a combination of poor management and a lack of goals (second lowest in league). They brought Dick Advocaat in with a few games to go and he ultimately kept them up (how much he had to do with it I don’t really know, I don’t rate him). There’s not much which can be said, it was a typical Sunderland season.
Looking forward Sunderland need to find a manager who can stay in the job for more than five months, need to inject some youth in to the side (especially in defence) and most importantly find a couple of guys that can score goals.
Aston Villa 17th
Villa shouldn’t really be in a relegation battle, however I’m sure if you offered them 17th and an FA Cup final they would snap it out of your hands and run away like Agbonlahor does from the ball. It is what it is for Villa, they are one of the many teams in England who have a heightened opinion of themselves for no particular reason and with Tim Sherwood now in charge they have the perfect manager to follow that unfounded arrogance which they have. To be fair 17th seems unfair to Villa this season, it felt like they did better than that, although not by much.
Looking forward Villa have a cup final to look forward to and likely won’t be as bad next season as they were this season. They need a lot of improvements though, because it felt like everyone kept saying that this was a young team and it just needed some experience and that has now turned in to they’re a bad team because none of those players actually came of age (excluding Benteke). I’m sure Super Tim will do something and finish it off with a smug self-gratifying grin and quip.
Poor Hull, another team with an odd owner but at least their owner backs them in the transfer market, yet they still went down. I thought Hull had a great summer transfer window, yes there were a couple of dodgy/risky buys (Abel Hernandez for instance which I hated) but I thought they had done really well, and ultimately the reason they are being relegated is that their signings never produced the goods. Snodgrass got a season ending injury in the first game, Livermore got done on drugs, Dawson I think did fairly well, Diame barely played, Maguire barely played, Robertson was injured a lot, Ince was a flop, Ben Arfa was even worse, Ramirez was almost as bad and Hernandez made Ben Arfa look like shrewd business. At best you can argue that two of those signings worked out and that is why Hull were relegated. On a side note what was the point in selling Long for £12m if you are just going to go and waste £10m on Hernandez? God I hated that transfer, what did they think they were getting with this guy? He’s a donkey and an idiot as well, it’s like the Balotelli signing without the potential involved, every day of the week this was a flop transfer before he even stepped on the pitch, I can only imagine they were desperate and brought him in because there is no other excuse.
Looking forward Hull need a total raid out, I think keeping Bruce is the right decision however there is so much deadwood at the club and a total lack of goals (another reason for relegation). I can’t see there being a rush for any of the Hull players, which maybe says more than anything about why they were relegated.
Although they were relegated I think Burnley can be proud of their season, after all this was essentially a Championship team playing in the Premier League. What I liked most about Burnley’s season is that they didn’t splash a bunch of cash bringing in a number of high profile money leeches who would bankrupt the club after relegation, instead they stuck with the team which got them up and it will pay dividends for next season.
Looking forward Burnley’s biggest task is to hold on to Sean Dyche, if they are able to do so I can see them bouncing straight back in to the Premier League as I think it is unlikely that they will lose many of their current squad.
Even Newcastle fans must look upon QPR with pity, that’s how bad it is. I think they were down as soon as Redknapp went, he may seem simple but he knew they were down and that there were too many primma donas in the team and so it turned out. Generally it was quite an embarrassing season with a number of players on high wages more than willing to sit on their fat arses picking up their pay cheques. Tony Fernandes is committed but how this guy made money in business I have no idea, he doesn’t seem to know what he is doing. The season was a total mess and the irony is that they had one of the league’s top scorers so really shouldn’t have struggled; it was the rest of the team that was dreadful.
Looking forward QPR are in a total mess and will now be hit with the full force of FFP which is pretty strict in the Championship and their finances are a total mess. They will need a total raid out of all the old biddies sitting on high wages, all the egos and the guys who are plain shit. The sad thing for QPR is that is almost the entire squad and players like Charlie Austin and Leroy Fer who are genuinely worth keeping around will almost certainly be signed by a bigger team, so god knows what sort of team will show up for pre-season but it can’t be any worse than this one.
Anyway it was a long season and this was a long review so no need to despair here are my predictions which are almost certainly going to be awful (written before looking). It will be the team’s actual position followed by my pre-season predictions and then my post transfer window predictions.
Not my best year for predictions…with only 2/20 being in the exact position although to be fair to me it is almost impossible to do this sort of thing and get lots right…or so I’ll keep telling myself. If you want to look at it in another way it says that Palace were the biggest over achievers (I’d agree) and that Hull and Newcastle were the biggest under achievers (I’d also agree), so that’s something at least. *Grabs for straws misses horribly falling on face and having life come crashing down on top of him* Yes it wasn’t very good, although there weren’t too many which were wildly wrong so that is something…
I know this may seem odd but if you have read this all the way through and are thirsty for more content then look no further as you can now go back and read last year’s Premier League review which has an oddly high amount of foreshadowing (especially about Newcastle) or why not check out the preview I wrote for this season or the review I wrote for the summer transfer window, there’s enough content there to make you suicidal.