There has been so much written about Leicester City over the last two weeks; and rightly so.
It was an extraordinary story that lasted for nine months. All the wise pundits said that it would come to an end, but it never did. They ended up taking the title out by 10 points. The bookies never lie; remember those odds of 5,000:1.
They finished 31 points above Chelsea, the biggest pts margin between the new champions & the previous year’s champions in PL history
87 points last season, and 50 points this season. With much the same squad and the same manager for half the season. It started with the manager throwing the medic under the bus, then he lost the dressing room, Chelsea had lost its seventh game by 7 November, then he seemed to orchestrate his dismissal by publicly criticising the work ethic of the players. It was an extraordinary demise that in any other year would define a season.
Under Guus Hiddink, in his 27th stint with the club as an interim manager, things improved, but the turnaround was not that convincing. It will be fascinating to see how many of the players stay around with no European football on the agenda in 2016/7.
In a year when “spursy” entered the Oxford English Dictionary, Tottenham went on to redefine it. That infographic from the Guardian says it all.
After a slow start Tottenham were widely considered to be the best side in the league after Christmas (although the points table didn’t fully back that up). In the end their two best midfielders got bans for violence, indicating the pressure did get to them. In their absence it was 2 points from 4 games as they finished the campaign in an ambulance.
They went through 37 games without conceding more than 2 goals in a match then let through 5 against an already relegated Newcastle playing with 10 men.
However, they will still form the backbone of both the England and Belgium sides at Euros 2016.
Second is actually higher than recent tradition, but the calls for Wegner Out are becoming politely deafening. They are back in the Champions League, with associated financial benefits though, did the double over Leicester (who lost only one other game) and look what happened to the last club tried to replace a long-serving manager.
Quite the contrast off and on the field. Louis Van Gaal is an unintentional stand-up comic off the field. Has side, however, produced week after week of tentative football that went from side to side with no attacking intent. The cattle is there, and Martial and Rashford are exciting yound talents, but the need a bit of excitement around them to be able to shine.
Even the bomb found on the last day of the season turned out to be less threatening than initially imagined.
You would think there will be another change of manager over the break, but is Jose Murinho really a fit at Old Trafford?
Top Tip 1; don’t sack your manager mid-season but keep him on for another four months. A season summed up by the attitude of Yaya Touré.
Top Tip 2: You don’t win the league when you cannot beat another team in the top 6. Yet, strangely, they had a decent run in the Champions League.
West Ham ended a top-flight season with a positive goal difference for the first time since 1985-86. In Dimitri Payet they had the most creative player in the league. Next year they move into a gifted stadium twice the size of their previous one. Watch this space.
Villa are a big sign, title and European Cup holders in the 1980s, and a permanent fixture in the Premier League. They have spent one season in the second tier in the last 40 years. This was a stunningly poor season with one of the longest losing streaks of all time.
They led for just 243 minutes this season, less than any other team in Premier League history. Their total of 17 points this season is the lowest they’ve ever recorded, even including seasons when it was 2 pts/win
Not quite as bad as Derby County in 2007-8 though.
It is one thing to be relegated, but to do it in a year when Sunderland stayed up just, and Middlesbrough got promoted must really hurt. Another big club will be mucking it in the Championship next season.
But unlike Villa, they are likely to come back up in short time. They will want to keep hold of Benitez though; the problems in the boardroom remain
At the start of the season they were the holders of the Good Feeling Story / Everyone’s Second Team award, but still seemed as likely to be relegated as Leicester FC. They kept on playing in a good style, stayed up with ease, and improved as the season wore on.
All in all, a staggering season Suggestions of a better one to @firstname.lastname@example.org), and good luck to anyone trying to predict what will happen in 2016/7. Such a shame we are not going to get to see it in New Zealand as things currently stand.