Lee Davy delivers his quick fire analysis of a 2014/2015 Premier League season that saw Chelsea storm to victory and QPR, Burnley, and Hull drop down to the Championship.
Watching Hull’s insipid goalless draw against Manchester United has to rank as one of the most uninspiring Premier League finales that I have ever witnessed. But it was a microcosm of the entire season: drab, lifeless, and devoid of any real drama.
Chelsea won the title at a canter; Man City, Arsenal and Man Utd found their way into the Champions League, with Hull, Burnley and QPR set to wipe millions off their income statement as they fall into the abyss of the Championship. Anyone remember a team called Wigan?
Here is my quick fire analysis of the 20 teams that were paid to do battle, but only transpired to do my head in.
When Arsenal plays at there best they remain one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Premier League. But they don’t play at there best often enough. Two players sum things up for me. On one hand you have Alexis Sanchez (the most successful foreign import for some time). Then on the other hand you have Mesut Ozil. The epitome of ‘can’t be assed’. Arsenal has played like Ozil, more often than Sanchez. They continue to lack a solid spine, and don’t have the necessary grit in midfield. We got what we usually get – no more, no less.
Aston Villa was appalling this season, and I fear for them when Christian Benteke buggers off and signs for someone half decent in the summer. Quite how they have managed to make the final of the FA Cup is beyond me, but they have more chance of lifting that trophy than my son’s local team does. I love Tim Sherwood, but you need players to win football matches, and Villa don’t have them.
I loved Burnley this season. In many ways they reminded me of Blackpool when they had their cameo role in the Premier League. Where is Blackpool today? They are heading to Sky Bet League One. Let’s hope Sean Dyche’s men don’t suffer the same fate. Danny Ings was brilliant. Without his 11-goals they would have been bottom. It’s a shame he will almost certainly move on during the summer, as will many more of their better players.
You can help but feel that Chelsea never got out of second gear this year. They played classy when they had to, and they parked a few buses when they had to as well. Jose Mourinho is a genius. He is also a winner. It doesn’t matter where he goes this man wins trophies. Eden Hazard was one of the best players in the world, John Terry gave a performance Peter Pan would have been proud of, and the signing’s of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas made all of the difference.
I loved watching Crystal Palace home games this season. At times I thought the stadium was physically rocking. They have to be one of the teams of the season, and the appointment of Alan Pardew was the main reason why. Yannick Bolasie was also class, and they will do well to hold on to him this summer.
Everton is the roller coaster team for me. One year they are fighting for the Champions league and the next year they are fighting for relegation. Don’t let their 11th place finish fool you. For long periods this season they struggled with the worst of them. Everton fans can look on the bright side though. They will probably be challenging for the Champions League again next season.
If relegation is staring you in the face, and you can’t beat Burnley at home, then you know you have a few problems. Hull City is one of the many teams that make up the Premier League that nobody cares about. Tigers? They haven’t got any teeth. When I see a team spearheaded by Nikica Jelavic, my money is going on the other team. They could easily turn into another Wigan.
Leicester City finished the season in title winning form. The signing of Esteban Cambiasso was key for me. His experience and talent would have made a huge difference. I also like the look of Kasper Schmeichel at the back, and if he continues to improve, a much bigger team will pick him up. My problem lies with Nigel Pearson. Every time I saw him on Match of the Day I wanted to climb into the TV set and shake him: emotionless, characterless, and often speechless. It was a miracle they stayed up, and credit to them for that.
What a damp squid of a year for Liverpool. To say they missed out on Champions League qualification is an understatement. They were never really involved in the chase. But what do you expect? Daniel Sturridge was absent for most of the year, and the loss of Luis Suarez would affect any team in the world. You also have to question Brendan Rodgers sense sometimes. Why sign Rickie Lambert and then never play him? Why sign Mario Balotelli period? Quite probably the most overrated footballer in the world.
Reigning champions Manchester City looked like an aged outfit this year. Don’t get me wrong. There were times when they ripped teams apart, but they made too many mistakes. Yaya Toure turned into the invisible man whenever a top four team turned up to play, and Vincent Kompany looked a shadow of his former self. Their only shining light was Sergio Aguero. He is one of the best players in the world, had a fantastic season, and I don’t understand why he wasn’t in the Premier League Team of the Year.
What a weird season for Manchester United fans. Halfway through the season they were challenging for the title and hadn’t even played a single game of decent football. A quick look at the stats will show you that United had more possession, and passed the ball with more accuracy, than any other team. Two problems plagued them though: too many mistakes at the back, and not enough advanced play. At times they looked like a team of 11-Michael Carrick’s. Angel Di Maria and Falcao were a joke, Van Persie gave up, and Van Gaal insisted in playing his best striker in midfield. And yet you have to say it was a successful season because they managed to get into the Champions League.
Watching Newcastle players and John Carver celebrating their final day escape made me cringe. What exactly did they have to celebrate? It was the first time they had won a football match since the 28th February. That dismal run consisted of nine defeats and a draw at home to WBA. I think almost every neutral football fan in Britain wanted to see them go down. Some of the decisions made by the owner Mike Ashley amaze me. The fans wanted Pardew out, he went, and looked what happened. I expect them to be battling relegation again next season because they are a team of traveling nobodies.
Every year we have a team that gets hammered week-in and week-out and this year it was QPR. They had an average age of 55 and when Harry Redknapp called time, you knew it was all over. The 6-0 defeat to Man City said everything to me. They won’t be missed. Charlie Austin and Robert Green were the only good things to emerge from a steaming pile of crap.
When Southampton sold half of their team to Liverpool, and lost their manager to Spurs, I would have bet a night with my wife that they would have been relegated. What Ronald Koeman has done at that club is nothing short of miraculous. The fans created a ‘Ronald Koeman Day’ and who can blame them. Only Chelsea conceded fewer goals than the team from the South Coast – but can they repeat their success
Stoke City is one of those teams that get the fast forward treatment on Match of the Day every Saturday night. And yet despite their lack of charm, they emerged as one of the teams of the season. Who knows how much better they could have done if Bojan didn’t get injured when he did. The young man was flying.
When Sunderland announced that Gus Poyet would be leaving the club I felt they would be relegated. In fairness, Dick Advocaat has come in and done a great job. I say that because the squad is filled with a bunch of has beens and no hopers. They must be the only club in the land with three strikers who never score any goals: Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham and Danny Graham. I don’t get it? How do they remain employed? Another good bet for the drop next season.
Swansea City is another one of the few success stories this year. Gary Monk is the youngest member of the Premier League management fraternity and that bears some pressure, yet the football they play is beautiful. It must have been terribly difficult for them to lose a talent like Wilfried Bony, but they just got on with it. An eighth place finish is exceptional.
Another season where Tottenham failed to live up to expectations. I am sure had Mauricio Pochettino not grown a set of balls and played Harry Kane instead of that awful Roberto Soldano, he would have been sacked at the end of the season. Take away Harry Kane’s 21 goals and where would Tottenham stand in the table?
Tony Pulis did it again. He walked into WBA and turned a bunch of mediocre players into a team worthy of climbing to 13th in the league table. But where would they have been without him? I fear for West Brom. I really do. They don’t have the players, and I don’t know where they are going to get them. Saido Berahino has received rave reviews this season, but he hasn’t turned me on. All I see is a kid on an ego trip. He is certainly not one for the future in my opinion.
There is a piece in Alex Ferguson’s autobiography when he questions where the myth of the West Ham way comes from. It made me laugh, because just like Ferguson I have never seen a decent West Ham side in my life. But the fans have gotten their way. Sam Allardyce has left the club by mutual consent. At the start of the season they wanted him out, when he took them towards the top of the table they loved him, and then at the tail end of the season they wanted him out again. He never looked interested. He always looked as if his heart was elsewhere. In the end you have to say a 12th place finish will be a bitter disappointment to them. Maybe next year we will see the West Ham way?