2013/14 Premier League Review
Well, its been another long season, and after many ebbs and flows, and many a championship candidate, it was all decided on the final weekend of the season. Here are the main places, and who has done what:
Champion: Man City / Runner Up: Liverpool (Both Champions League Group Stage)
3rd/4th: Chelsea ( CL Group Stage) / Arsenal (CL Quals)
Europa League: Everton / Tottenham / Hull (Cup Runner Up)
Relegation: Cardiff / Fulham / Norwich
An interesting fact to start off – Bar Man Utd and Tottenham, the other 7 teams who sacked managers finished in the bottom half, and all three relegated teams had also changed manager once, or several times in the case of Fulham. The new-manager affect clearly not what it is thought to be.
Man City won the title, despite being 6 points behind Liverpool with a couple of games left – at times their football was not pretty, but they got the results needed. Liverpool on the other hand played some magnificent stuff, but their ignorance towards defensive duty cost them dearly, with a 3 goal lead slipping at Crystal Palace being the straw that broke the camels back. They will return stronger next season, and one must think – if Suarez didn’t miss the opening 5/6 games, they would probably have won the title with ease.
Below that the story of the season was Man Utd – Ferguson retiring, Moyes taking over as Sir Alex’ pick. He failed miserably, losing to teams like Newcastle, WBA, Swansea and more that they had not lost to at Old Trafford in decades. In late April, he was sacked, and Ryan Giggs took over for the final 4 games, and then Louis Van Gaal was given the job in mid-May.
There was an Epic battle for 3rd and 4th spots, with Everton occupying a Champions League place for much of the season, and Arsenal contending for the title, up until their usual-but late collapse. Chelsea took 3rd after a disappointing season for the returning Jose Mourinho. Arsenal eventually secured 4th, Everton 5th and Spurs, who had wasted so much of the £85m received for Gareth Bale, finished 6th, with AVB getting the sack before the end of November, and Tim ‘The Supply Teacher’ Sherwood also getting the sack after a 60% win ratio over the space of 6 months. Mauricio Pocchetino takes over there.
Man Utd amazingly finished 7th – no European football for the first time in 25 years, surely under Van Gaal they must return next season? Southampton had a great season, finishing 8th – Luke Shaw being the star of their campaign, earning a World Cup slot for Brazil over Ashley Cole – honourable mentions go to Rickie Lambert who reached double figures, and Adam Lallana, who both are on the plane to Rio. Jay Rodriguez may well have also been going to Brazil, but a bad knee injury meant he had no chance.
Stoke, under the stewardship of Mark Hughes, revamped their style after Tony Pulis departed and rose to 9th, with Marko Arnautovic being one of the signings of the season. Newcastle were at one point, on Boxing Day, 4 points off 4th Spot. However, with Yohan Cabaye’s departure (And Joe Kinnear) and just Luuk de Jong coming in, they lost an incredible 13 of the final 19 games, and barely scored a goal in those – and dropped to 10th. Luckily for them their early season form kept them up there, otherwise Alan Pardew may have been sacked, despite his record being worse than the last 28 Premier League managers to receive their P45.
Below 10th, Crystal Palace looked like relegations certs’, but after signing up Tony Pulis they defeated some giants, including Chelsea, to recover from 20th to 11th. Superb season for them! West Brom had a forgettable season – Steve Clarke went, Pepe Mel came in and did no better, and departed after the season ended. West Ham were average at best, with Sam Allardyce looking set for the sack after a miserable 2nd half of the season. Swansea had a poor season after getting into Europe – Laudrup fell out with the board and left, with Gary Monk taking over – the only bright spark being Wilfried Bony, a terrific signing at around £12m from Vitesse. Aston Villa were also very poor this season, fending off a late relegation scare to secure a bottom quarter finish – Benteke underperformed and had injury problems, and summer signings such as Okore, Tonev and Helenius barely seen.
Hull had a steady season after coming up, Steve Bruce made some good signings, Tom Huddlestone and Ahmed El-Mohamady being two very good buys. They finished just below mid-table, but have qualified for the Europa League after losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup final – great achievement.
There was a bit of competition for the relegation places – for a long while it looked like Sunderland were going down, but after a Cup run which seen them face Man City in the Capital One Cup final (losing 3-1), it sparked a miraculous comeback, worthy of Lazarus. They survived, but most summer signings were utterly dreadful, Jozy Altidore scoring just one goal in over 25 games
Now – the three to go down. Cardiff were in their first season in the Premier League, and spent over £30m in the summer on Gary Medel, who was terrible (£11m), Andreas Cornelius, who was terrible, and was sold back to Copenhagen in late January for a smudge of the £8m they spent on him. The 3rd was Steven Caulker from Tottenham, who at £8m was actually a good buy. Malky McKay was sacked by Vincent Tan – the man who changed their famed Blue kit for a Red one – and replaced by Man Utd legend and Molde boss Ole-Gunnar Solksjaer. He spent a little more money, but nothing. They went down with a whimper.
Norwich also spent a fair wad of cash, mainly on Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (£8m) who scored just one in over 25 apps, Gary Hooper, who wasn’t much better, Nathan Redmond – a bright spark, and Leroy Fer, who again was half decent. Chris Hughton was sacked late in the season, which made little to no difference. They were soundly relegated.
Fulham also went down after spending un-wisely, summed up in January as they spent £12.2m on Greek star Konstantinos Mitroglu, who appeared twice in 4 and a half months. They went through several managers, including Rene Muelenstein, who was given about 5 minutes after Martin Jol was sacked, and finally Felix Magath, who could do nothing to prevent their fate.
As far as our Awards go :
Signing of the Season – 1st: Willian. 2nd: Wilfried Bony
Flop of the Season – 1st: Erik Lamela. 2nd: Marouane Fellaini
Player of the Season – 1st: Luis Suarez. 2nd: Yaya Toure
Manager of the Season: Brendan Rodgers
Next season will be interesting. QPR return, but with a hefty fine and transfer embargo looming. Leicester also return after a long absence. Burnley are the 3rd team to come back up – somewhat of a surprise after they finished in the middle of the table in 2012/13.